Case study: BBP & GPT defit trial at the MLC Centre

The Better Buildings Partnership and founding member The GPT Group collaborated with industry in 2014 in a trial to achieve better social and environmental outcomes from a defit of tenant spaces in GPT’s MLC Centre office tower, located in the heart of Sydney’s city centre.

GPT had been looking for ways to create shared value through its core business and specifically through the procurement of products and services. Through GPTs involvement with the BBP’s work on fitout waste and tenant engagement, multiple opportunities to use the MLC Centre defit as a pilot project to test a new approach to demolition works were identified.

The project involved the defit of fixtures and removal of furniture across three floors over a short time frame and a challenge of managing the waste created. The pilot project aimed to trial solutions to minimise waste and create opportunities for employment and training by working with social enterprises.

Three Sydney-based social enterprises who work with people that have experienced barriers to employment were invited to participate in the defit and provide the services to dismantle and remove the fixtures and furniture. 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 BBP provided support in assessing and considering options for the waste’s afterlife and identifying the opportunities that could be applied more broadly to measure, report and in the future, minimise waste.

The main goals and outcomes of the trial were:

  • To successfully engage social enterprise to deliver commercial activities – at the end of the trial, two of the social enterprises involved have continued to provide services as sub-contractors for defit projects.
  • To 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 within the same time frame and cost as if they were to go to landfill. This was achieved successfully and demonstrated the feasibility of engaging with social enterprises and that this modification to the traditional scope of works is possible.
  • To measure and track the outcomes of materials from the defit – the BBP wanted to better understand the quantum of materials leaving the space as part of the defit and their final destination, adding to the body of research the Partnership has completed to date.  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. Standard practice in defit can often lead to up to 80 per cent of material leaving the fitout going to landfill and only 3 per cent being reused. This represents a significant opportunity for change to divert waste from landfill and increase reuse.