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Green Challenges

What kinds of “green” challenges are you coming up against on the job site, and how are you resolving them?

The full scope of what is considered “green” is still being worked out, not to mention who does what and what it’s worth.

So, for compliance with LEED requirements, we pretty much have to indicate where the materials are purchased in proximity to the job, what recycled content the materials have, whether they’re renewable, etc. That’s pretty straightforward.

A more perplexing problem has to do with an onsite issue—that being how to capture the “raspings” of the expanded polystyrene beadboard (EPS).

We’ve just finished a mammoth job that is surrounded by catchment ponds that ultimately feed into the Chesapeake Bay. We had to capture as much as we could and fish the rest out of the ponds with swimming pool skimming poles with nets. The county was very concerned with the environmental impact of the EPS.

I get several calls a year from contractors asking what to do about this issue. I recommend that they have the applicator use debris netting on the scaffold (which is pretty much universal in Europe), use vacuum rasps that capture much of the dust at the point of sanding, and have shop vacs available on the scaffold and/or on the ground to capture as much as possible.

Several jobs have been shut down in the DC area due to the EPS rasping issue. People on the street are certain that their health and lives are at risk due to the white stuff coming down into the street. Of course that is not true—perception is the problem.

—Robert A. Aird,

President, Robert A. Aird, Inc.,

Frederick, Maryland

Finding drywall industry product manufacturers with facilities close to our work area (with the exception of one wallboard plant in Gypsum, Colorado) is difficult and critical to the certification process for our general contractors and owners attempting to obtain the highest LEED Certification on their projects.


Money “green” challenges me on every job site. Still looking for the answer on resolving it.


Bid package and specifications are not clear as to what credits and what products are required for the wall and ceiling contractor. When you inquire, the GC’s often don’t have the information, and there isn’t even a LEED champion (or person handling the certification) on board. We try to ask all the proper questions and put out an RFI to ensure there will not be problems or issues later that would prevent the project from attaining a certification level or certification as well as level the playing field to ensure that all bidders are aware of the project requirements and the guy who missed something doesn’t get the job.

—Lee R. Zaretzky, President,

Ronsco, Inc.,

New York, New York

We use all green products, and therefore do not have to resolve any challenges. We are using an all natural “Eco-Batt” that is made from recycled glass and sand, with no dyes, and is bound together with a soy product. And we use both open cell and closed cell spray foam that is soy based, and is both eco friendly and LEED Certified.

—All Cape Insulation & Supply, Inc.,

South Dennis, Massachusetts

Recycle, Recycle, Recycle. In the Sheetrock phase of jobs recently we have been provided with a gypsum-only Dumpster to recycle our leftover board. Only problem is the time it takes to remove others’ junk from our piles for scrapping!! Pauls Walls says, “Recycle or go home!!”

—Wayne Dickinson,

Dickinson Drywall,

West Bridgewater, Massachusetts

Recycle scrap drywall. Recycle scrap expanded polystyrene board. Solution: grind up and send back to

—Michael G. Winghart, Owner,

Winghart Inc.,

Mequon, Wisconsin

Not near enough “green” in the bank.


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