Material sustainability in Campus Renovation Services

Project summary

Campus Renovation Services, a department within FP&M’s Physical Plant, is responsible for the design and construction of building projects under $150,000 on the UW–Madison campus and most adjunct properties.

This project looked at the life cycle of materials used by Campus Renovation Services, from sourcing to end-of-life, with three main goals:

  1. Develop sustainability criteria for interior designers.
  2. Find non-landfill end-of-life options for waste items.
  3. Investigate the extent of campus storage of unwanted items.

Project timeline

June – August 2016

Project partners

Office of Sustainability: Brenna George, AJ Minucci

Facilities Planning & Management:

  • FP&M administration: Kris Ackerbauer, Rob Lamppa
  • Campus renovation services: Pam Barrett, Kirsten Fosdal, Kerry Hillard, Kevin Smith
  • Carpentry: Sean Leary
  • Lock shop: Artie Malm
  • Operations and maintenance: Chris Velie
  • Waste and recycling: Lyle Jelle
  • Safety: Mike Pena
  • SWAP: Matt Thies

Project status


Selection of interior design products, such as carpet and other flooring, upholstery and furniture, is an important component of the overall sustainability of Campus Renovation Services’ operations. We identified sustainability criteria for common interior design products by talking to brand representatives and researching third-party certifications, focusing on sourcing, usage and disposal.

Carpet is the single most widely used flooring product and is the easiest to compare due to relatively few sourcing choices. Using criteria such as recycled content, recyclability, durability, manufacturing energy use, indoor air quality impacts and third-party certifications, we compiled a comprehensive dataset ranking the overall sustainability of the carpet options currently available. For more varied products, such as furniture and upholstery, we developed general checklists rather than a ranking system.

The resulting rankings and guidelines will allow sustainability to become part of the product selection process and help interior designers choose more environmentally-friendly flooring for newly renovated campus spaces.



Construction and renovation projects generate several specialty waste streams. Some of these items are already being recycled on campus. Of the waste streams that are currently going to landfill, potential recycling options exist for five, listed in the table below.

Campus Renovation Services currently does not dispose of enough drywall, furniture or vinyl tile to justify creating specialized recycling infrastructure at this time. However, our assessment suggests that UW–Madison could generate net revenue by recycling carpet and ceiling tile waste streams.

Recycled Landfilled
(some recycling options)
(no recycling options)
 Asphalt  Carpet  Construction rubble
 Clean wood  Ceiling tile  Fiberglass
 Concrete  Drywall  Roofing (some)
 Electronic waste  Furniture
 Metal  Vinyl tile
 Roofing (some)



Exploration of campus facilities revealed about a dozen locations in various basements, unused floors, and loading docks of buildings that harbor large amounts of furniture. This furniture is no longer being used and takes up valuable space, while also creating eyesores and fire hazards. The majority of the items in these spaces are not accepted by SWAP and should be sent to other recycling, donation or disposal facilities. However, reuse or responsible disposal of unwanted furniture can be complicated by state requirements related to material procurement and disposal.

This project has identified an important need for an established process to effectively donate unwanted furniture, either internally on campus or to the broader community. The reclaimed space could be used to collect specialty recycling streams or to house offices or other campus facilities.