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Posted on: April 18, 2022

Builders, renovators head down zero waste trail in Banff

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The Town of Banff is implementing a new program to reduce waste going to landfill from construction, renovation, and demolition (CRD) projects. 

“The Town of Banff is working hard to become a leader in environmental responsibility, where everything we do is guided by a goal to protect this special place,” said Banff Mayor Corrie DiManno. “Materials generated by construction, renovation and demolition projects generate a lot of material that is traditionally sent to landfill. This is why we need to address this waste stream in collaboration with businesses in Banff, who we know is eager to be trailblazers when it comes to best environmental practices.” 

The program starts with the permitting process and the deconstruction of existing structures, before building starts. Building permits now require homeowners or builders to report what material is being sorted and proof of diversion from landfill. 

Starting in 2023, the permitting process will require a monetary bond as part of the commitment to recycle material such as wood, asphalt, drywall, metal and concrete. The bond, which will be equivalent in value to the total building fee, will be returned, based on how well materials are diverted from landfill.  

People will receive extra points in a “diversion score” if they can prove that materials were  reused rather than recycled. The diversion score will determine how much of the bond will be returned. If the builder is able to divert 70% of the demolition and construction waste, the bond would be returned in full.

Half of all Banff waste comes from construction

Waste generated by construction, renovation, and demolition activities makes up a about 50% of all waste generated in town, most of which could be reused or recycled, instead of being sent to landfill. Thanks to efforts from local industry, the diversion rate of these materials from Banff is trending up, with an increase by more than 20% since 2017. 

In 2021, more than 5,000 metric tonnes of CRD waste was generated, with over 3,000 tonnes of it diverted from landfill. 

The Town of Banff is continuing to work with individual builders, the Bow Valley Builders & Developers Association (BOWDA), and the Bow Valley Waste Management Commission to make the new processes easiest to implement, and accommodating of on-site construction and demolition challenges.

“CRD waste diversion, reuse, recycling and education to support continued efforts to ensure that we are more responsible in how we build, renovate and retrofit is fundamentally at the heart of industry best practices and inherently the right thing to do for current and future generations,” said Ian O’Donnell, Executive Director of BOWDA.

Many construction, renovation and demolition projects dispose of materials at the Francis Cooke Landfill and Resource Recovery facility in Exshaw which is managed by the Bow Valley Waste Management Commission. 

“Administrative tools like this are essential in an integrated approach to managing materials to support a more circular construction economy,” said Peter Duck, Regional Coordinator for the Bow Valley Waste Management Commission. “This will compliment the recycling practices encouraged by our facility in recent years.”   

The Town also offers free signs and decals to builders and property owners to use at construction sites to encourage proper waste sorting, prevent “contamination” of sorted waste streams, and to ensure that sites don’t attract wildlife into town by preventing other garbage being thrown into construction bins.

“Construction, renovation and demolition activity produces what we refer to as embodied emissions,” said Carla Bitz, Environmental Coordinator for the Town of Banff. “This means very large volumes of greenhouse gas emissions generated in the extraction of raw materials, transportation, and other areas of development. That’s why promoting practices that prioritize deconstruction and green demolition is so important.”

The Town of Banff recommends builders or homeowners tackling a renovation to read the Facility Guide for the Francis Cooke Landfill and Resource Recovery Centre. Builders can email zero.waste@banff.ca for more information about the new program, to provide suggestions, or to seek help with the permit application process. 

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