By Suet Lee-Growney and Season Osterfeld, Fort Riley Public AffairsFebruary 26, 2018
FORT RILEY, Kan. -- The surplus Colyer Manor homes in the old Colyer Forsyth neighborhood at Fort Riley, Kansas, will soon be no more, but Corvias is leaving no stone unturned in the demolition. They have invited Manhattan Area Habitat for Humanity from Manhattan, Kansas, to sweep the property and take what the organization might need for their cause.
The purpose is two-fold: to avoid filling up the local construction and demolition landfill and to allow usable parts of the old homes, such as vanities, countertops, appliances or toilets, to have a new life, said Kelly Karl, Corvias director of construction.
"With demolishing over an excess of 1,000 homes, you're going to fill up that landfill up very quickly," Karl said. "So we are very cognizant of working with (the landfill) to make sure we don't occupy that landfill and fill it up. And also just being good stewards of the environment (and) trying to divert as much or recycle as much material as possible just because it's the right thing to do."
Many items in the homes could be hazardous to the environment if not properly disposed of. These items include switches, thermostats and light bulbs with mercury in them and batteries.
"When you're (demolishing) hundreds of homes a year, you very quickly pile up light bulbs and you can't just throw them into the dumpster because of the environmental concerns," Karl said. "That has been beneficial to not only us but also Habitat (for Humanity) because we're able to properly transport these bulbs from the home and safely sell them at their store. Those are very popular. Batteries -- there is a 9-volt battery in your smoke detector -- we just can't throw those in the dumpster, we have to try and repurpose."
The reason Habitat for Humanity was chosen to be the beneficiary of the reusable appliances and home parts is because it was local and their market meets the needs of what Corvias is donating, Karl said.
"It was the only really local market that we can tap into with the type of product that we had to offer," he said. "If somebody can get a benefit out of it, why not?"
According to Manhattan Area Habitat for Humanity's website, mahfh.org, the nonprofit's missions align with Corvias' intention for the partnership. Manhattan Area Habitat for Humanity has operated a home improvement store since 2005 where the ReStore sells a wide variety of new and gently used appliances, furniture, building materials, and odds and ends. By doing so, the organization has helped divert "many tons of usable materials from local landfills."
Apart from the items up for donation to Habitat for Humanity, Karl said they want to recycle the concrete in the homes too. The plan is to set aside the concrete during demolition to build an inventory. After which, they would take it to a concrete crushing operations, to handle the rest.
"We bring them to an operation that crushes it and it is certain, through engineers, they would refine it twice and we can actually use that crushed concrete for road base or underneath driveways, underneath sidewalks," Karl said. "It's really a win-win when you look at those avenues to be able to reutilize some of the excess material. Otherwise, it would have gone to some landfill and piled up."
For Corvias, this recycling initiative to work with Habitat for Humanity benefits both parties, Karl said. One of Corvias' core principles is to give back to the community. When they recognized the pros outweigh the cons in the partnership, it was a win-win.
"That's what Corvias is all about; we are all about partnership with the local community and surrounding areas," he said. "It's really a win-win if you can figure out how to do it; how to do it successfully … The capacity working on the installation and then haul costs are large part of your demolition budget, so if we are able to decrease haul times, reutilize and repurpose the material and divert from the local C&D(construction and demolition) landfill, there's really not a lot of cons when you're looking at it, if you can get all the right variables in a row."
By donating these items, Corvias has been able to reduce the 32 tons in demolition weight by 70 percent from being dumped in the landfill.
"It's a massive amount of weight that goes in to dropping over 1,000 homes when it comes down to concrete, appliances, everything," he said. "But we've been able to divert over 70 percent of our what we call waste stream from the local landfills by either partnering with the local communities like Habitat for Humanity (and) Operation Walking Shield and a lot of our in-house stuff with concrete recycling."