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Del Sur takes construction recycling to new level

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"Recycle" is not just a buzzword for the developers of Del Sur -- it's a mandate.

When residential construction of the new master-planned community begins in June 2005, as much as 90 percent of the project's solid waste is projected to be diverted from the region's landfills. This far exceeds the city of San Diego's goal of diverting 50 percent of construction waste materials.

"This is the first comprehensive construction recycling program in San Diego County," says Fred Maas, president of Black Mountain Ranch LLC, developer of Del Sur. The program is based on guidelines from the U.S. Green Building Council and is part of Black Mountain Ranch's ongoing effort to be responsive to the environmental community.

Black Mountain Ranch LLC, recently presented this recycling program to the San Diego City Council's Natural Resources and Culture Committee, which cited it as an example of how voluntary compliance does work. The committee also said the program is a model for other community developers and homebuilders. The program benefits the city and taxpayers financially in that it helps the city achieve its recycling goals and avoid fines imposed by the state.

"Although there is no legal requirement to recycle, we think it makes sense to make it a standard practice," Maas continued. "We have partnered with San Diego Landfill Systems and Pacific Waste Services to create a state-of-the-art landfill diversion plan that will accomplish the 'three Rs' of municipal solid waste -- reduce, recycle, reuse."

Pacific Waste Services will provide an onsite supervisor to manage the diversion program, providing detailed reports to track the materials diverted from the landfill.

"This recycling program will not only reduce the amount of material going into our landfills, it will enable the reuse of excess materials that otherwise would have been thrown away," said Jerry Schnitzius, general manager of Pacific Waste Services. "It will also eliminate about 90 percent of the heavy trash-truck traffic within the community during construction, which is a huge help to the infrastructure as well as the environment."

The waste material will be deposited in one of four color-coded bins at each collection site: single stream (cardboard, mixed paper, aluminum and steel cans, glass and plastic containers), wood, drywall and trash. The bins will be placed in front of every one to five homes, depending on the volume of material being generated. The 3-cubic-yard bins will be identified for specific materials using pictures and labels in Spanish and English.

"Contractors and subcontractors will be educated through tailgate meetings and onsite visits on the use of the containers provided so they can maximize waste material diversion by segregating recyclable material from material that cannot be recycled," Maas explained.

Most of the waste material is targeted for reuse, creating a market for the recycled materials. For example, a wood chipper and colorizer will be used to mulch scrap wood, and the mulch will be made available for landscaping throughout the project. In addition, much of the stone and concrete excavated from the site will be crushed and used for road base throughout the development.

The builders support the program, Maas added, "because this not only improves the environment, but there are long-term economic benefits for all of us in the construction industry. Recycling contributes to the sustainability of natural resources and, long-term, will help keep construction and development costs from escalating. We see it as a win-win situation: good for the environment and good for business."

The 1,800-acre Del Sur lies within the boundaries of the city of San Diego, adjacent to the community of Santaluz and located in the hills of the La Jolla Valley. Del Sur is part of the second phase of development within the 5,600-acre Black Mountain Ranch. Del Sur's first phase of residential construction will begin in the late spring of 2005, with the sales office slated to open in September. The project includes 3,050 housing units, 469 of which will be affordable.

Del Sur is the product of community-based planning by the property owner, the city, the surrounding communities and environmental organizations, including the Sierra Club. It includes the construction of the Ranch House community center, which has been registered with the U.S. Green Building Council. Once completed, the 3,200-square-foot Ranch House will be certified by the USGBC as complying with the council's stringent Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) requirements.

Percival is president of Scribe Communications.

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