The value of literally and figuratively “building” partnerships to create a zero-waste future for Auckland was recognised last night when Auckland Council, TROW Group, and Green Way won the Partnering for Good Award at the NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards 2019 ceremony. The tripartite partnership has been challenging the building industry to do things differently and rethink waste.
The award was presented to the three organisations at a black-tie Awards event on Auckland’s waterfront. Now in their 17th year, the NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards recognise and celebrate success in sustainability across Aotearoa.
“Tackling construction and demolition waste is a massive challenge for Tāmaki Makaurau and our nation,” says Councillor Richard Hills, Chair of Auckland Council’s Environment and Climate Change Committee. “Around 50 per cent of the waste currently going to landfill from across Auckland comes from construction and demolition materials.”
Judges impressed by positive flow on impact for communities
In selecting a winner for the Partnering for Good Award, the panel of judges look for partnerships that have drawn on each partner’s unique strengths and leveraged these for social good – making communities demonstrably better off.
The judges said, “We were super impressed by the comprehensive nature of this initiative. We were particularly impressed with the breadth of connections within the industry, council and community; great impact measures; the flow on impact beyond reduction of waste, such as a 'new' kitchen for a marae that feeds the homeless; and the 60 roles created. They have also created a 'how to' guide for developers and building contractors which is freely available on their website. The evidence and business case is there for the industry to follow suit.”
Sponsored by Ministry for Primary Industries, the award acknowledges organisations that have fostered successful partnerships that lead to positive impacts on the lives of Kiwis – in health, nutrition, housing, employment, community and more – be they partnerships between businesses, social enterprises, community organisations, not for profits or local/national government.
“Congratulations to our passionate, hard-working staff and contractors for this achievement. I am delighted to see Auckland Council as a joint recipient of the Partnering for Good Award, along with TROW Group and Green Way, in recognition of the great things that can happen when local government and businesses work together to make a difference,” adds Councillor Hills.
Designing out waste
As a partnership, TROW Group, Green Way, and Auckland Council have set out to lead the way and walk the talk on rethinking construction waste. Their collaborative efforts have proven that deconstruction and soft strip methodology can be successfully applied to demolition projects to recover valuable interior fixtures and fittings and construction materials, minimise waste going to landfill, and benefit communities.
It’s an operating model that is rarely seen in the construction and demolition sector at this time, but one that is gaining credibility in demonstrating a sustainable approach to managing waste is better for the environment, better for communities, and also economically better for business.
Traditional demolition practice usually means a building is mechanically smashed to pieces, loaded into a truck, and transported to landfill. The industry has worked like this because it has assumed it’s the quickest, most-efficient and, importantly, most cost-effective way to get the job done.
The three-way partnership actively shows that there are other options and that they are doable. TROW Group and Green Way have worked together to design robust deconstruction techniques, which see interior fixtures like carpet, seating, light fittings, kitchen hardware, and bathroom fittings carefully removed, before the building structure is methodically taken apart to salvage valuable building materials such as timber flooring, trusses, roofing iron, and steel and sending them to community destinations across the Auckland region and to the Pacific, often to assist in rebuild efforts in the wake of natural disasters.
Auckland Council has supported the deconstruction methodology by creating ground-breaking contract specifications that have enable motivated contractors to undertake these waste minimisation measures.
Through the learnings gained, the partnership has created a proven pathway for industry to follow. Since the partnership began, 310 tonnes of construction waste has been diverted from landfill with around 30 tonnes of timber and building materials being provided to community organisations, including marae, schools, and churches.
"The government opened consultation on a proposal to increase the cost and expand the scope of New Zealand’s waste levy this week. This provides a real incentive for the construction and demolition industry to look for innovative ways to divert waste from landfill. This partnership shows industry the value of adopting deconstruction and soft strip practices,” says Councillor Hills.
“It’s great to have received this accolade at such an important time for the industry when they’ll be starting to look for answers.”
A Partnering for Good Award commendation was also given to BNZ and The Salvation Army for their mobile ‘The Good Shop’ initiative, designed to provide an ethical lending alternative for people in financial difficulty, who can be vulnerable to predatory lenders.
Inspiring Partnering for Good Award finalist stories
For more inspiration, check out the stories of the other Partnering for Good finalists: