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Site Visit: Yas Mall's waste lockdown

by Stian Overdahl on Jan 20, 2013

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A Keestrack Destroyer 1312C Impact Crusher being used to crush concrete into specified grades. Strong magnets extract any steel or metals in the waste
A Keestrack Destroyer 1312C Impact Crusher being used to crush concrete into specified grades. Strong magnets extract any steel or metals in the waste

Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi is one of the largest projects aiming for a Pearl Two Rating under Estidama, which requires it to divert at least 70% of the waste it produces from the landfill. Meeting this requirement has required innovation from the design and operation team, including crushing and screening more than 39,000 tonnes of concrete on site.

The Yas Mall construction site on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi is the first commercial project of its size to strive for a Two Pearl rating within the Estidama system.

Compared to the LEED system, a Pearl Two is slightly below a LEED Gold, although it is not an exact comparison, and it depends which categories are prioritised.

Within the construction and demolition waste management component of Estidama, a Two Pearl rating calls for 70% of waste produced on on-site to be diverted from the landfill and used elsewhere.

For the developer, Aldar, and the designing consultant, AECOM, this has meant a construction site focused on the waste management hierarchy of ‘reduce, reuse, recycle and compost’.

Alternative uses have had to be found for thousands of tonnes of concrete, hundreds of tonnes of wood, as well as tens of tonnes of plastic and cardboard produced during construction.

Douglas MacAskill, senior project manager – Yas Retail, Aldar, says that a decision was made within the company to support the government’s initiative of Estidama, developed through the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (UPC).

“Although there are costs involved with trying to achieve Two Pearls, there are other benefits, intangible and non-financial, which we all know are a result. The mandate on a project this size is Two Pearls. There was a lot of discussion internally as it is a demanding target, but we decided that we will go with the wishes of the UPC and achieve Two Pearls.”

Across the GCC, waste from the construction industry is thought to be account for 55% of all waste produced, according to a report last year by Vishnu Sankaran, industry manager of chemicals and materials at Frost and Sullivan, the business research and consulting firm. And this is despite construction activity accounting for only 5.6% of GDP in the region.

Tarik Tadmori, a sustainability consultant at AECOM, and one of the designers of the Yas Mall C&D waste management plan, says that while steel has always been recycled on construction sites due to its value, materials such as concrete, plastic and wood would generally just get sent to a land fill.

“It’s quite depressing if you ever go out to the landfill and you see what is just a vast wasteland. [For Yas Mall] we looked during the design phase at what would come on site, and what could be recycled. We formed a construction waste design plan as a part of the submittal. The contractor [Six Construct] took that on board, and is obviously implementing it.”

When PMV visited the site, the volume of waste diverted from the landfill stood at 96.93%; or in volume terms, of the 44,860.2 tonnes of waste produced, 43,482.2 had been diverted from being dumped. “Right now we’re at 97% diverted waste from landfill, and that is a high number in any country, but here in the UAE it’s actually quite amazing,” says Tadmori.

Waste to be diverted includes steel, concrete, wood, cardboard and plastic, as well as materials such as plasterboard and glass that will likely be produced in the later phases of construction. Food and general waste is not being diverted, while hazardous waste is not counted towards the total.

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