BBP and GPT collaborate to trial new defit solutions at MLC Centre

Stripout waste
Over the first half of 2014, the Better Buildings Partnership and its member The GPT Group collaborated with industry to trial better social and environmental outcomes when de-fitting tenant spaces in GPT’s MLC Centre office tower in Martin Place, at the heart of Sydney CBD.GPT has been looking for ways to create shared value through its core business and specifically through the procurement of products and services. Coupled with the BBP’s work on fitout waste and tenant engagement, Sue Wiblin, Communities Manager at GPT and Esther Bailey, Manager of the Better Buildings Partnership, realised that there were multiple opportunities to use the MLC Centre defit as a pilot project to test a new approach to demolition works.The trial identified and selected local social enterprises working with people who have experienced barriers to employment and invited them to participate in the defit. GPT also engaged with its main contractor ISIS, who are commercial fitout and refurbishment specialists, to facilitate the practical elements of the pilot and provide support to the social enterprises. The Partnership provided support in assessing and considering options for the waste’s afterlife and identify the opportunities that could be applied more broadly to measure, report and in future minimise waste.

Principle goals of the trial included:

  1. successfully engage social enterprise to deliver commercial activities – at the end of the trial, several of the social enterprises involved have now continued to work in this space as sub-contractors for defit projects.“We are pleased to have been so impressed by one of the social enterprise contractors that we have entered a contract agreement with Richmond PRA. We are getting them to continue in their capacity as a demolition sub-contractor at the MLC Centre, beyond the completion of this pilot. There are also opportunities for us to work with Richmond PRA on other sites in the future because they did such a good job.” – David Burke, ISIS Project Manager
  2. successfully defit loose materials as if to divert from landfill – it wasn’t a goal to divert the waste in the first trial, but to prove that material could be disassembled and stripped out with care with the same time and cost. The success of the social enterprise is evidence this modification to traditional scopes of works is possible.
  3. measure and track the outcomes of materials leaving the space – the BBP wanted to better understand the quantum of materials leaving and their final destination, adding to the body of research the Partnership has completed to date.“The afterlife of this furniture is often an after-thought. But there is incredible capacity to re-use and recycle as most of the material removed is functional, well-designed and often less than five years old.” – Esther Bailey, Manager, Better Buildings Partnership

With the added data from this trial, the BBP’s research in this space has found that up to 25,000 tonnes of furniture, ceiling tiles, carpets, glass and other fitout materials are often sent to landfill, despite the materials’ potential for reuse, re-processing or refurbishment. It was discovered that standard practice in defit can often lead to up to 80% of material leaving the fitout going to landfill and only 3% reused. There is significant opportunity for change in this space.

You can also read more about the BBP’s work on refurbishment waste>

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