School builds on recycled material

Material from Dolores Schools demolition reused here

The construction crews are busy laying the foundation for the addition to the Dolores Elementary School.

Recycle and reuse is a goal being accomplished at the Dolores Schools expansion project.

As the old vocational-ag building was being demolished, the concrete, steel, and cinder block were separated for recycling, explained Scott Klassen, construction manager for FCI, Inc., the project's general contractor.

"We diverted 2,075 cubic yards of concrete from going to the landfill," he said. "And we recycled 120 cubic yards of steel."

As part of state grant funding for the $6 million expansion and upgrade, the new science and technology building must go for a LEED Gold Certification.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a set of rating systems for the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of green buildings.

FCI recycled 75 percent of the old vocational building during demolition.

"Ten years ago it, would have all gone to the landfill," Klassen said. "Recycling is the way it is done now, and that is good. It saves money, helps the economy, and is good for the environment."

Specialized crusher equipment was brought in to pulverize concrete blocks into fill material for the foundation work. The crusher uses a giant magnet that separates rebar within the concrete.

The result is recycled steel and a clean construction fill suitable for part of the foundation base, Klassen said.

"It's exceptional fill material that compacts really well. We saves on material costs and all of the hauling."

To handle all the other recyclables, FCI hired Phoenix Construction Recycling to collect plastics, wood, and various materials on the job site. Huge containers are filled then taken to the Durango facility, separated out, and resold.

A tour of the construction site showed foundation work moving along for the elementary expansion and for the new science and technology department.

"Since construction started, we have been blessed with good weather and no problems," Klassen said. "The students and staff have been great to work with."

Men in hard hats swarm the job site, putting together the forms for the stem walls, referring to plans, hauling dirt with machinery, and installing new plumbing.

A walk through the locker rooms showed new walls, bathrooms and extensive remodeling. They are expected to be completed by May, in time to show off to parents during graduation.

"It is a really nice upgrade," Klassen said.

Twenty-two subcontractors were hired for the job, and the majority of the companies are from the Four Corners.

Hotels, RV parks and restaurants have reported an uptick in business thanks to the army of construction workers.

"The project is ahead of schedule, which means we're saving money and there is more of a chance that we can afford extras at the end," said Dolores Schools Superintendent Scott Cooper, citing, for example, additional landscaping, more sky lights, and rod-iron fencing instead of chain-link.

Scott Klassen displays a handful of crushed concrete from the pile that will be recycled at the Dolores School building site. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Scott Klassen displays a handful of crushed concrete from the pile that will be recycled at the Dolores School building site.