You don’t have to click too many times through your channels on your television set without finding a reality television show. There is one for finding the right man, losing weight to the extreme, rebuilding a destitute home in five days, and even eating spiders and beetles.
Earlier this week on the evening news I witnessed a reality show of sorts in the green building arena: an investigative report by a local news station about the construction of the new Music City Center in Nashville, Tennessee.
Location: A demolished building in downtown and a dumping site out of town.
Protagonist: Ben Hall, an investigative reporter from Channel 5.
Antagonist: A local demolition subcontractor involved in the project.
Plot: In a project committed to sustainable and green construction methods, will the subcontractor take the easy way out and simply dispose of the demolition waste rather than carefully pick through the recyclable materials?
Conclusion: See the video for yourself. [Cannot see the video, click here.]
This green building reality show illustrates one of the tensions between sustainable building practices and certified sustainable building practices. Where a project is simply committed to sustainable building practices, conceivably there is no oversight. The end product may contain energy-saving features or other green components, but the building methods may not change.
Where a project seeks LEED certification, as does the Music City Center, there should be requisite protections in place to monitor the reuse of recyclable material and the disposal of waste material. "We’re going to try to keep as much out of the landfills by recycling it," said Larry Atema, Senior Project Manager for the Center. ". . . [F]or example, the steel to a steel recycler, the brick to a brick recycler."
So, where did checks and balances fail at the Music City Center? According to Atema, "It should not have happened. . . . I think what is important at least to us, when we first learned of it, we went out and less than 12 hours later we had the steel picked out of the debris." According to the article, Atema said crews will have to do a better job of sorting. He said that the crews are now looking more closely at what leaves the demolition site.
It will be interesting to follow this project through construction, as well as the LEED certification process, to see whether the Music City Center wins its green building reality show prize.