Huntsville’s Municipal Parking Garage A is no more. Demolition crews with large machinery have torn the structure down to its foundation to make way for a new City Hall with an adjoining parking garage. Heaps of broken concrete and twisted metal have been loaded onto dump trucks and taken to the Solid Waste Disposal Authority (SWDA) of Huntsville. That’s not the end of the road for those materials, however. In the case of the concrete remnants, the road is just beginning. “We’re recycling the concrete material,” said Ricky Wilkinson, Director of General Services for the City of Huntsville. “It will be crushed and can be used as base material for temporary roads or anywhere you might use gravel.”
The idea of recycling building materials is unique and environmentally friendly, but not rare. Wilkinson said it’s become more common because recycling processes have improved. “The equipment required for breaking up concrete is more reasonably priced, so it’s more common now,” he said.
The rebar and protective guardrails from the garage will be melted down at a recycling center in Birmingham and reused in future applications. Brandon Tucker, project executive for City Hall contractor Turner Construction Company, said most structural steel is recycled. “That’s how most metal producers in the U.S. develop their products,” he said. “Rebar in concrete may have been a car part that was melted down and used again. The steel quality is as good or better than virgin steel because it has to meet so many strength requirements.”