Adient Expansion Provides Inspiration for Resourceful Recycling

In 2017, RBV was awarded the site work contract for Adient’s Plymouth, Michigan facility. Adient, the world’s number one automotive seat supplier, and Royal Oak-based Ronnisch Construction Group (both first-time clients of ours), both wondered if there was a way to recycle the materials that would be removed from the project site. After considering this request, Operations Manager Arnie Ridner had an idea: “Why don’t we remove the trees at the Adient project intact and use them for our root wads and log jams at our Clinton River Restoration project?”

Given that in the past RBV has simply pushed trees out of the way to make room for earthmoving and utility install operations, this idea was a bit progressive…but brilliant.

Root wads

Root wads are the mass of dirt and ball of roots at the base of a tree, plus a portion of the trunk. They are typically used to protect stream banks by deflecting stream flows away from the bank, in turn providing structural support to the bank, habitats for fish and other animals, and a food source for aquatic insects.

As a part of the Clinton River Project design in Shelby Township for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Detroit District, we required 133 root wads and another 27 logs. Log diameters for the project range from 12 inches to 24 inches with log lengths ranging from 10 feet to 30 feet.

When we realized that the Adient site would only provide a fraction of what would be required for the entire Clinton River project, we set out to find other upcoming developments that had yet to be cleared of their trees. We made contact with a developer in St. Clair County who we heard was planning to start a project in the hopes they had not yet begun clearing operations. We were in luck, and the root wad harvesting project was born.

While we have just recently started physical groundwork at the Clinton River Project site, we have been busy the last several weeks at both the Adient site and the St. Clair County location removing and trimming branches, cutting logs to specified lengths and cleaning the root wads, all in preparation for delivery and installation to the Shelby Township sites for their installation.

large root wadsWhile the bulk of the root wads and logs harvested to supply the USACE Project ended up coming from the St. Clair County development, it was all sparked by a challenge by an innovative owner in the hopes of limiting the environmental impacts of their expansion project. Ironically, not only would we limit the impact on their site and the St. Clair County site, we would be using the otherwise discarded material to improve an environmental issue elsewhere.

The complete tree harvesting operation now spans three counties. From the south at Adient’s campus in western Wayne County to the north in St. Clair County, and finally converging to their final home in the middle in Macomb County along the banks of the Clinton River. Stay tuned for further updates on Adient’s multi-phased expansion project as well as our Clinton River Project as the root wads and log jams are installed later this year.

You can learn more about RBV’s sustainable construction practices on our website.