With the adoption of the 2008 Princeton University Sustainability Plan, Bill Bausmith learned he was to recycle 95% of the University’s construction waste. Princeton’s Associate Director of Design and Construction vividly recalls his response: Totally impossible!
How it came together
“I just couldn’t see how we were going to get a demolition crew to separate sheet rock from studs,” Bausmith said. “I mean, who’s going to do that?”
To achieve the unprecedented 95% recycling rate, Bausmith knew that he would have to work directly with everyone that would be involved in reaching this statistic. Bausmith’s strategy relied on motivation, encouragement, and incentive.
First, Bausmith spoke to his building contractors to clearly communicate Princeton’s recycling requirement. Then he stirred up interest among the construction workers about separating recyclable materials. He frequently toured municipal recycling facilities, grew acquainted with the haulers, closely monitored campus weaknesses and strengths, and studied New Jersey’s solid waste laws. When the recycling numbers climbed above 95% in 2012, he threw a barbecue for his workforce of over 200 people.
Currently, Princeton’s average recycling rate on construction waste hovers around 96%. Bausmith’s experiences with sustainably ridding the campus of demolition debris caused the lifelong builder to appreciate his department’s lasting environmental improvements on campus and abroad. “Once you’ve really taken the deep dive into sustainable recycling,” Bill said, “it gives you a whole new perspective on the benefits of selecting renewable building materials and maximizing Princeton's influence to drive change in the industry."