Armstrong’s “Off Cut Recycling Scheme” at University Hospital, Birmingham

As part of our joint procurement initiative with Balfour Beatty, Armstrong Ceilings was asked to provide the ceiling systems for the University Hospital, Birmingham project a £582 million project providing both acute and Adult Psychiatric facilities for the University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust.

Armstrong also worked very closely with the Sheffield based architects, BDP, and Titan Ceilings, so this project represented a real collaboration between all parties. The University Hospital, Birmingham construction joint venture comprising Balfour Beatty Construction and Balfour Beatty Engineering Services was underpinned by a Sustainable Construction Plan, emphasising a ‘joined up’ attitude to sustainability and the environment. Armstrong Bioguard Plain and Bioguard Acoustic tiles were specified to provide a combination of acoustic, anti microbial, ISO 5 clean room performance solutions for the hospital environment.

One of the deciding factors in us being asked to collaborate on this project, was our willingness to trial an off-cut recycling scheme; whereby we would collect the offcuts from the ceilings as they were installed and recycle the waste materials to make new tiles. One of the aims was to then use these new tiles on site – effectively making ‘green rooms’ within the building. We were asked to set up a system that would enable all the waste to be captured and collected as it was generated. This was on a purely trial basis – a real learning exercise for all involved.

We did, of course, face a number of challenges. There was cross contamination of waste; which meant that not all the waste could be recycled, even after a lengthy sorting process. In addition, a solution for on-site storage of Armstrong materials needed to be resolved, as space was limited. However, Balfour Beatty and Titan Ceilings gave the scheme their full support, ensuring any problems were kept to a minimum.

Jim Duffy (Head of Environment and Quality), Balfour Beatty Construction Northern, anticipates that major building contractors and customers could soon make on-site recycling mandatory. He said, “This major project identified ceiling tile cut offs as an item that would be unacceptable to send to landfill. The project pushed the boundaries with Armstrong and Titan and all three parties agreed to trial the recycling scheme. Having overcome some initial challenges in the first year, the trials success and failures have been reviewed and actions put in place to improve the volume of recycled material in the second year of the trial. Having the commitment to trial the scheme on a non contractual basis was a great step forward. Committing to improve the recycling process is a great testimony to all three parties. The challenge for the future is making this the norm within the three businesses. ”

The University Hospital, Birmingham construction joint venture was given an award by the Chartered Institute of Waste Management for outstanding site management of waste – a direct result and recognition of the hard work put in by all involved. It is certain that the practices that have been put in place will play a significant role in the future of waste management.

Lets not forget the additional environmental benefit of specifying Armstrong Bioguard ceilings. At the end of their life the tiles at Birmingham hospital can be fully recycled back into the Armstrong “End of Life” recycling scheme!

Consort Healthcare, Balfour Beatty’s PPP healthcare vehicle, reached financial close for the PPP contract to design, construct, finance, maintain and manage the lifecycle replacement of the new facilities in June 2006.

The construction work is being carried out by a joint venture of Balfour Beatty Construction Northern and Balfour Beatty Engineering Services. Facilities management is being provided by Balfour Beatty Workplace. Action: to be completed*

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