By Evan Williams, Cambridge Companies
September 1, 2021
Retrofitting an existing building or new construction for your solid waste facility, a decision makers guide.
Once you have determined you need a new facility, one of the critical decisions to be made is whether to build a new facility from the ground up, or to modify an existing building to suit your needs. While this may seem like a straight-forward process, there are many considerations that will factor into your decision. To make sure your decision is well-informed, you should take a detailed approach to best evaluate your options.
Determine the Program: The first step in this process is to have a firm set of project parameters that the project should address, often referred to as the project program.
This can be prepared by the local GM or Business Development staff, but it may be good to include a design project manager, or similar trained staff familiar with space planning and facility planning. The programming document should be detailed to address building and site requirements needed for a new or retrofit building. Items included in a programming document for a transfer station would likely include the yearly thru-put, expected hours of operations, mix of vehicles expected (internal volume, third party volume, number of residential drop-offs, need to single stream trans-loading, type of loading operation (lift and load, push put, compactor), type of hauling (live loading, drop and haul), types of vehicles that are tipping at the facility (route trucks, walking floors), whether the facility needs to be fully enclosed with negative pressure or an uncovered tipping apron is acceptable, building height needs, etc. These are not all the typical considerations needed for a transfer, but they should all be answered as much as possible, as they will all factor in the evaluation of whether an existing building can be suitable or whether a new building will be needed.
An additional consideration for your programming document is future growth needs. While projecting future needs can be difficult, it is often a good idea to provide guidance on how you see the operation developing over time. Likely, one of the design requirements will be a master site plan showing all future additions to the building or additional out-buildings to accommodate future growth and morphing operations. This should be a consideration as you plan your new facility. The goal will be to develop a site that meets your needs for now and into the future.