Reusing resources saves money on historic museum project


The Harley-Davidson Museum site occupies approximately 20 acres of land that previously comprised five former industrial and commercial properties. Site demolition activities associated with construction of the Harley Museum presented unique salvage, reuse and recycling opportunities in addition to the classic salvage of building materials.

Harley-Davidson contracted with The Sigma Group to plan and coordinate site demolition. Sigma assisted with predemolition planning, contractor bidding and selection, and oversight. Tyler Company, Inc., performed above ground demolition and Edgerton Contractors, Inc., worked below ground. Due to Edgerton’s involvement with the Marquette Interchange highway project, they realized additional recycling and reuse opportunities. One of these benefits was the ability to provide clean fill from the Interchange project at no charge for Museum site construction activities.

From May to August 2006, Edgerton transported 79,000 cubic yards of clean soil from the the Interchange project, located only a few miles from the Museum site. The material was used to bring the site to above plain elevation, but also as the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) approved an environmental remedial cap to eliminate direct contact exposure pathway to site contaminants.

Use of the material from the Marquette Interchange required appropriate timing and coordination of Interchange and Museum construction activities, as well as assurance from the WDNR that the material from the Interchange was exempt form solid waste regulation and suitable as fill Museum site material. Reuse of the soil as Museum site fill generated direct project cost-saving associated with the relatively close location of the donor site to the Museum, as opposed to requiring additional transportation.

Edgerton was able to obtain most of their on-site construction aggregate needs by reusing crushed aggregate generated from the on-site demolition and the Interchange project, instead of purchasing and using new materials. This helped reduce the demolition waste stream and project costs, minimizing use of natural resources.

Tyler and Edgerton also salvaged 40×40-foot wood laminate beams, 523 tons of steel, 2,720 pounds of copper, 5,450 pounds of aluminum, and 33,500 wood/beams during deconstruction of on-site buildings for subsequent transport to others in the reuse / recycle markets.

Asphalt plant equipment was salvaged, including a rotary aggregate dryer and thermal fluid heater assembly.

In addition, the company salvaged building components including light fixtures, drinking fountains, hot water heaters, and LED exit signs. The materials were donated to several non-for-profit organizations, including St. Paul Lutheran Church and School in Grafton, Wisconsin and Living Word Lutheran High School in Jackson, Wisconsin. Light fixtures installed at St. Paul School save about 20,000 kilowatts per year in energy consumption and associated costs, or a 61% annual reduction.

As part of the site demolition, eight mature locust trees needed removal. Attempts to coordinate their on-site future use were unsuccessful as the final grade was being increased. Sigma retained Trees on the Move to relocate the trees from the Museum to Sigma’s office.

The realization of these unique recycling opportunities required the cooperation and commitment of project team members with the appropriate skills, knowledge and experience, as well as training and administrative requirements. Up front project planning, including identification of end users and scheduling, were critical to the recognition and success of the opportunities. The activities reduced the overall project disposal costs, provided cost savings in reuse of aggregate materials, reduced use of natural resources to manufacture new materials, components, and offset future resource and energy costs for end users.


  • 2008 Governor’s Award for Excellence in Environmental Performance.
  • 2007 Wisconsin Business Friend of the Environment Award in recognition of innovative environmental stewardship efforts.