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Gray is the New Green: Sustainability in Construction

April 21, 2022

Filed Under: Industry Trends

Gray & Son is deeply rooted in our community and we’ve spent more than a century delivering top-quality service and products throughout the greater Baltimore area. While we’ve grown to be recognized by our trademark yellow, we’re hoping to also be known for green; green, sustainable initiatives, that is. 

Sustainability Trends In Construction 

Construction of all kinds has played an integral role in our society’s expansion and development. However, we’ve all come to learn this has put a strain on natural resources. While “sustainable” may not be the first word used to describe the construction industry, it is becoming an increasingly important initiative for projects of all sizes and scopes. In recent years, many initiatives have been put in place to regulate construction practices and encourage builders to adopt more environmentally friendly building methods. We’re proud to have incorporated eco-friendly methods into several of our areas of expertise– specifically our paving and demolition services. 

Asphalt Paving and Sustainability: Reclaimed Asphalt Pavement 

Developed in the early 1970s, Recycled Asphalt Paving (RAP) has become an increasingly popular way to bring sustainability to paving projects. When asphalt paving is removed through milling or a full-depth removal, the broken asphalt material can be recycled to be used in other projects. Currently, asphalt materials are being recycled and reused at a rate of over 25% of a ton of asphalt paving. 

Electing to use RAP on projects allows the paving industry to make much-needed strides toward reducing its environmental footprint. Asphalt is not a biodegradable material, and any waste that is deposited into landfills will remain there forever. RAP provides an opportunity for old asphalt materials to be repurposed rather than sitting in a landfill. According to an industry survey conducted by the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), more than 100 million tons of RAP were collected for reuse in the United States in 2018 alone, saving nearly 61.4 million cubic yards of landfill space. 

In addition to a decrease in waste, RAP is associated with a decrease in cost.  The use of RAP allows asphalt producers to use less virgin liquid asphalt. In addition, it can greatly reduce the cost of asphalt materials– something that is especially beneficial in today’s oil market. It has been estimated that recycling asphalt pavement saves American taxpayers in excess of $1.8 billion a year.

While lower cost is oftentimes associated with lower quality, that is not the case with RAP. Asphalt that has been recycled still has small amounts of liquid asphalt in it. Unlike other loose-fill roadway materials, RAP will bond together tightly during the paving process, creating the same high-quality surface created by traditional asphalt products. 

All of these benefits make RAP an easy choice for our team. Gray & Son mills over one million square yards of reclaimed asphalt in a year– that’s the size of nearly 156 football fields. We’re proud to bring sustainable, high-quality products into mid-Atlantic communities up and down the east coast.

Environmentally Conscious Demolition Services

Demolition is also a major contributor to construction waste– nearly 90% of all Construction & Demolition debris (C&D), results from demolition projects alone. With that large strain on local landfills, it’s especially important to our team that we develop and implement sustainable practices when completing demolition jobs.  We work with various recycling facilities that sort C&D to pull out all recyclable items to reduce the volume going to landfills.

One of the biggest ways to decrease the environmental footprint of a demolition job is to look for opportunities to recycle C&D materials. Asphalt, concrete, and rubble can often be recycled into aggregate or new asphalt and concrete products. We proudly offer material recycling services, including crushing and screening at Gray & Son. “Our team provides portable crushing and screening services,” explained Brandon Bonanno, General Manager of Demolition & Materials Resources at Gray & Son. “This allows a property owner or a general contractor to recycle aggregates on-site for beneficial reuse on projects.” 

Electing to recycle building materials not only provides benefits to the environment, it can also have long-lasting rewards for your building and company. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certifications are the leading standard for environmentally responsible projects in the United States. Throughout a project, you can earn LEED Credits and Points, ultimately earning you a LEED rating level. LEED-certified properties have both economic and environmental rewards, with 61% of corporate leaders believing that sustainability leads to market differentiation and improved performance. Recycling building materials is just one of many ways that a project can earn LEED credits. 

LEED credits have become increasingly popular due to the benefit that they bring. “More LEED projects are being completed,” explained Bonanno. “This is requiring increased recycling of demolition materials either on-site for beneficial reuse or using recycling facilities to lessen the actual volume taken to landfills.” The snowball effect of LEEDS projects will hopefully only further project the industry to increased sustainability. 

The Future Is Green: Gray & Son’s Sustainable Construction Work 

We’ve been invested in the greater Baltimore area for over a century. Our roads run throughout, but our roots run deeper. That’s why we’re committed to providing sustainable, environmentally conscious practices. By utilizing RAP and increasing material recycling on every job site, we’re protecting our community and the natural resources that surround it. 

To learn more about how you can pave the way towards a more environmentally conscious project, contact our team today!