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Recycling gypsum board is possible

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by Journal Of Commerce

A couple of things caught my eye recently.
Recycling gypsum board is possible

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A couple of things caught my eye recently.

A Danish system for recycling gypsum board began operations in the Boston area.

That sounds like no big deal, until you remember gypsum board is considered the most difficult of all construction materials to recycle.

There have been lots of attempts, and some modest successes when the feedstock consists exclusively of clean scrap from new construction. But the Danish system is able to recycle drywall that contains all the stuff that has defeated previous recycling attempts — paint, paper and tape, nails and other metallic fasteners.

The system is owned and operated by Gypsum Recycling America, a subsidiary of Gypsum Recycling International, which began commercial operation in 2001. It now has operations in Denmark as well as Sweden, Norway, Holland, Ireland and the United Kingdom.

So the Boston plant is not a pilot project. It is up and running, and has contracts with National Gypsum and U.S. Gypsum to provide reclaimed gypsum powder. The companies can use up to 25 per cent recycled gypsum without changing their manufacturing process, and there is no change to their finished product.

Part of the problem with past efforts has been the paper on the board, but the scrap paper is used in ceiling tiles produced by Armstrong Building Products.

Gypsum Recycling makes it easy for the contractor. They put their own bins on each jobsite, then use their own trucks to pick up bins and take them to a warehouse.

The actual recycling is done by a large but mobile machine that can be moved on two or three trailers, then set up in a few hours. The machine moves from warehouse to warehouse as needed.

From the Boston area, the company plant also set up operations as far away as Washington, D.C., eventually covering the entire American northeast.

There’s no word yet on Canadian plans, but it seems to me the Toronto-Hamilton-Kitchener triangle might offer an opportunity.

On a completely different matter, I was pleased to see that Brian Watkinson is beating the drum on behalf of BIM — building information modelling.

Watkinson, erstwhile executive director of the Ontario Association Architects and now a consultant, told a session at the recent Construct Canada conference that BIM will have “a huge impact” on our industry. And DCN’s Patricia Williams, reporting on a conversation with him, quoted him as saying that BIM is “coming fast.”

All this coincided nicely with a news release that showed up on my desk at about the same time. It was from Graphisoft, the European CAD outfit that pioneered the BIM concept. Turns out the company has just made a gift of a bunch of its software (worth more than $1.1 million U.S.) to Colorado State University’s department of construction management.

Graphisoft calls its product 5D Virtual Construction, so-called because it adds the dimensions of scheduling and cash-flow analysis to make it a complete building information system.

The gift was made because, said company vice-president Don Henrich, the construction industry “has an enormous appetite to hire graduates who have 5D skills.” In fact, he noted some customers require new hires to have “a strong understanding of managing the relationship between design, cost and schedule.”

All this sent me to the company’s website, where I discovered a list of the schools worldwide that teach the Graphisoft approach to BIM.

In the U.S., there are 144. But they are scattered around the world. Denmark, for example, has 13 such schools; New Zealand has 12. Even such industrial “powerhouses” as Estonia (five), Latvia (four), and Ecuador (four) made the list.

Even Kazakhstan has one.

Canada has two, so we’re one up on Kazakhstan.

Korky Koroluk is an Ottawa-based freelance writer. Send comments to editor@dailycommercialnews.com

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