6 things to expect when UAB demolishes a building

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townhouse demo example streamAs UAB continues to embrace its Campus Master Plan, new buildings are arising — from a new home for Information Technology to the starting stages of the Science and Engineering Complex.

Likewise, as UAB inventories existing buildings, it often razes low-performing, low-quality and inefficient buildings, such as the former UAB Police Headquarters, the former Jefferson County Department of Human Resources, the Worrell Building, the UAB Townhouse and, most recently, the Education Building, the demolition of which began in May.

Razing a building can take many forms, such as the traditional method of breaking it apart using a long-arm machine or imploding it, and a building’s location is an important part of that decision.

Curious about the process and what it might mean for you? Here’s what to expect:

1. Safety is first.

Each building slated for demolition undergoes a rigorous inspection, called abatement, that includes testing the site for hazardous materials such as asbestos, then removing anything dangerous using proper containment, supervision and protective measures. The timeframe for abatement varies by building.

2. Some power outages are normal.

To ensure safety, certain projects require electrical service to be shut off for the building being demolished and also for those nearby. The Facilities Division partners with local utilities to ensure the outages are scheduled as conveniently as possible and that those affected are notified in advance.

3. Things can get shaky.

UAB monitors that. During the demolition process, the site’s vibration levels are regularly monitored to ensure they stay in a safe range for the area and nearby buildings.

4. It can get dusty.

Air quality is closely monitored during demolition UAB takes many precautions to limit the impact of dust. Standard air-monitoring systems are used to measure air quality and ensure it remains in safe ranges determined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Many demolitions are “wet,” meaning building remnants are regularly sprayed down with water to limit dust carried by wind.

5. Expect some impact on traffic flow — by car or on foot.

Sidewalks and streets often need to be closed for a portion of the project to keep pedestrians safe. Facilities project managers will work with contractors and city representatives to limit closings to non-peak hours when possible. Closures are always marked and notices of traffic impacts are communicated through UAB emails, websites and social media.

6. What can be reused or recycled is.

Through its Construction and Demolition Waste Management Plan, UAB encourages contractors to find opportunities to recycle and reuse materials to divert waste from Alabama’s landfills; this is standard for university projects.