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Doing justice to environment
Times photo: Brenda Steurer Extra materials from the Green County Justice Center project are collected for recycling. About 74 tons of excess material has been recycled from the project so far. Recycling keeps the material from local landfills.
MONROE - The Green County Justice Center has gone green.

More than 84 tons of waste have been created with the building's construction. In the past, the discarded wood, steel and concrete used to build a facility this size would be thrown into landfills. Project supervisor Randy Thor of J.P. Cullen and Sons decided that was too much waste to just toss out.

He and the Janesville company building the justice center have found alternatives for the waste besides landfills.

Excess wood has been sent to the Green County Landfill to be mulched. The wood then is sent to Janesville to be used as ground cover. Scrap pieces of steel are recycled and concrete is used for road-based material.

So far, with about six months to go before the justice center opens, 74 tons of material have been recycled, Thor said.

This is Thor's second green project. The first was an elementary school in Dubuque, Iowa. In that project, 80 percent of extra material was recycled.

"It requires communication and participation," Thor said of the recycling plan.

At the early stages of the project, Thor and others met to go over the plans for the new building, as well as discuss what could be done with extra materials such as pallets and scrap steel. The key is to have a plan to get rid of extra materials in an environmentally friendly way, Thor said.

The recycling programs have been successful because the workers are willing to be involved with the recycling concept, he added. Workers have dumpsters nearby so they can easily separate wood from steel and trash. Thor said the proximity of the dumpsters means workers won't waste something even more precious than wood or steel - time.

"It's a team effort," Thor said.

The justice center is on schedule for completion in August, Thor said. The 64,700-square-foot building will include the Green County court system, the University of Wisconsin-Extension, a multipurpose meeting room and offices for the public defender and probation and parole.

The Green County Board voted to build the $12.6 million justice center in September 2007.