Building Economic Benefit Through Innovative Waste Management Practices

Working closely with our customers, we are creating a more sustainable planet in our building operations. As part of that effort, we have signed Building Green’s Contractor's Commitment, an industry standard that defines what it means to be a green contractor.

On Mortenson project sites, our teams implement construction waste best management practices to ensure wastes are properly profiled, stored, managed, and disposed of. Furthermore, as we continue to expand the boundaries of innovation – with and for our customers – we have the opportunity to implement innovative waste reduction measures that can reduce costs to owners, while protecting the natural environment and the communities we serve.

Project teams reduce construction waste through reuse, recycling/diversion, and supplier take-back programs, while working to identify and implement waste reduction initiatives and measures, including:

  • Reducing construction mistakes
  • Ordering the correct amounts of materials needed for the job
  • Procuring the right-size materials for the job
  • Storing materials properly
  • Recycle and reuse
  • Innovative new building methods
  • Selecting building products with minimal packaging
  • Working with our suppliers

Project Background:

Mortenson’s Power Delivery team has implemented unique tools to better manage waste on their project sites, in an effort that is leading to environmental benefits and reducing project costs. In 2022, multiple distributing computing data center projects benefited from these efforts.


The team determined there was an overwhelming amount of waste that was going to be generated from the packaging associated with the number of computing units needed for the Projects. For one phase of a project there were 155 containers being installed, with 540 computing units per container, totaling 83,700 computing units. Each computing unit is packaged with two pieces of Styrofoam, wrapped in plastic, and placed in its own cardboard box resulting in approximately 83,700 pieces of plastic wrap and cardboard boxes and 167,400 pieces of Styrofoam that would need to be managed and disposed of during construction. If the waste were to be landfilled, one container worth of computing units would fill approximately five to six dumpsters with Styrofoam, or approximately 620 dumpsters for the phase one scope on this project.


To reduce the overall volume of waste generated and streamline the waste management process, the team procured a cardboard baler and Styrofoam densifier. The baler compacts cardboard and the densifier reduces Styrofoam into dense blocks as seen in this photo.


The team reduced the number of dumpsters needed by an estimated 1,550%. Now, around three to four containers worth of waste packaging can fit into one dumpster and the new estimated number of dumpsters has decreased from 620 to less than 40. Because of the material processing, the Styrofoam and cardboard can be recycled at the proper recycling facilities rather than being sent to the landfill, an additional environmental benefit in creating a more sustainable process by implementing circular economy principles.

While the environmental impact of this implementation benefits our planet and the communities we work in, there was also a significant financial impact resulting in approximately $117,450 in savings for one project.

The Power Delivery team strives to find ways to make their project sites more eco-friendly and due to the success of implementing these waste management processes, additional projects have also implemented use of a densifier and baler. These innovative solutions will continue to advance the way we drive waste management on our project sites.