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The Buena Vista School District has an extra $15,000 on hand, thanks to a donation this past week from Orion Environmental, the company responsible for asbestos abatement and demolition at the Buena Vista Middle and High School construction project.

Matt Mena, senior estimator, and project manager, said his crew collected about $13,500 worth of old copper and brass wiring and plumbing materials during demolition and hauled it to Atlas Metal & Iron Recycling in Denver. Typically that money collected helps offset project costs, but in this case, Orion rounded the figure to $15,000 and gave the money back to the school district.

Mena said the company, based in Commerce City, removed nearly 500 semi loads of construction debris from the site and was able to recycle about 1,800 yards of scrap metal, repurpose 3,000 yards of concrete and manage 4,800 yards of general construction debris.

“The Chaffee County Landfill and (manager) Shannon Wilcox were also critical in working with Orion to keep the building debris local and the revenue collected in Chaffee County,” the team said in a statement presented to the school board. “Shannon’s team worked with Blue Bear Waste Services, and together they were able to process the vast amount of waste we brought them, keeping the project moving along efficiently.”

Mena said Orion felt welcomed by Buena Vista, which “just seemed to rally around the project.” He said local hotels, restaurants, and other businesses helped make the project a success. Orion began the demolition project in December and completed it mid-February.

The $50.8 million construction project ($21.3 million in BEST Grant money and $29.5 million in district match) should be complete this fall. Students will be able to use most areas when they return to school Aug. 27. The complex totals 128,072 square feet with 99,195 square feet new and 28,877 square feet renovated. The district was able to undertake the project without disrupting programs, according to superintendent Lisa Yates.

The project includes a new high school and middle school academic wing, flex commons area, new administration space, new tech/art/music/consumer studies area, a new media center, new middle school gym and renovated high school gym. The old academic wings, art building, middle school gym and cafeteria were demolished.

Mena said he was impressed by the central role the school plays in the Buena Vista community.  “It is our hope that the funds generated from these recycled materials will be reinvested in supporting school functions, underfunded activities, or any other opportunities to support student success,” the team concluded.