The Role of Surplus Property in Campus Demolition Projects

No fixed asset can last forever, and buildings are no exception. Whether due to dwindling residual value or significant deterioration, there may come a time when the best strategy is to demolish a campus building.

Once your institution has decided on demolition, however, you’re faced with the task of addressing all of the assets inside of the building.

Assets in good condition might be redistributed to a different building on campus. Other assets, though in good condition, may be unneeded by the university, and can therefore be donated to charity or sold for profit. The remaining assets may be deemed unsuitable for use, sale, or donation, and therefore need to be disposed of.

Teaming up with your Demolition Team

To ensure proper stewardship of your institution’s waste during demolition and construction, your surplus team should have a hand in the process from day one. Establishing communication with the demolition team is a great place to start.

The best way to coordinate the asset management of a demolition project is to contact the surplus department before finalizing an agreement with the contractors. This gives surplus managers the opportunity to claim desired items. Then, remaining assets can be taken care of by contractors.

Another practical option is for the demolition project manager to contact surplus and organize a walkthrough. During these walkthroughs, surplus workers can evaluate assets of interest to determine which should be reused, sold, or recycled.

Regardless of the chosen method, universities should enforce coordination between demolition and surplus teams from the get-go. During initial planning meetings, project managers should be educated on the role of the surplus department within the university, and encouraged (or required) to coordinate with them throughout the asset disposal process.

Streamlining the communication process between demolition and surplus teams will give your university time to evaluate each asset and determine the best disposal method. This strategic planning approach can result in maximum profit and minimum waste.

Asset Evaluation

Sustainability should not be overlooked, but cost avoidance is a priority, as well. When evaluating assets to determine the most advantageous disposal method, the potential resale value must be considered. Therefore, repair, hauling, and storage costs must all be strongly considered during the evaluation process. If any of these costs exceed the revenue, or if the profit isn’t significant, it may be determined that the asset is not worth selling.

When this is the case, universities must heavily weigh all options, considering financial and environmental concerns, simultaneously. Here are a couple of ways you can properly dispose of surplus assets while minimizing costs:

1. Establish Responsible Contract Negotiation Terms

Despite your best efforts, you may find that some of the assets within your soon-to-be-demolished building simply cannot be stored, sold, or repurposed within the university. In this case, the only remaining option is disposal.

To ensure that your demolition team disposes of the items in a sustainable way, you might consider including recycling as part of the terms of your negotiation contract. The Waste and Recycling Plan established at Humboldt State University is a great example of this.

2. “As Is, Where Is” Surplus Sales

During the asset evaluation process, you may be fortunate to find that a large portion are in satisfactory condition for eventual redistribution or resale. However, storage space might be an issue.

For universities with storage constraints, a viable solution is to host an onsite sale. The surplus department can decide on appropriate pricing ahead of time, and customers can visit the building to screen and select surplus property before demolition begins.

Waste Diversion

Many universities have included demolition and construction regulations directly within their sustainability plans. For example:

  • Humboldt State University
    During construction and demolition, Humboldt State requires a minimum waste diversion rate of 50% (by weight). To support this effort, contractors are required to submit a Waste and Recycling Plan.The plan requires that contractors identify and estimate types and amounts of waste, landfill options, and disposal alternatives. One suggested alternative is to transfer items to the university surplus department, reducing landfill waste.Prior to beginning any construction job, Humboldt State also provides contractors with their Contractor Recycling Guide, which includes waste diversion best practices.
  • University of Arizona
    The University of Arizona requires all demolition and construction policies to follow the procedures outlined in their Design and Specifications Standards (DSS) document. The DSS includes a detailed list of items that should be salvaged, as well as specific language requiring contractors to conduct site meetings with Facilities Management to determine where salvaged items should be taken. Last year, the university was able to divert approximately 1,150 tons of waste from landfills in demolition and construction projects.

The university surplus team also leverages the AssetWorks surplus management software platform to easily track the assets that have been salvaged.

Regardless of where these items fall in the asset lifecycle, it is critical that they are handled in a responsible and sustainable way. In conjunction with your demolition team, your surplus department can serve as an integral resource in the determination and management of valuable assets.

Waste Diversion & Revenue Generation with Surplus Property

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