There has been a lot of talk about green building lately, from structurally insulated panels to geothermal heating and air. But a lesser-known industry, at least in terms of green, is now on its way to earning a reputation as more efficient and eco-friendly: pile driving.
“This is so important because it is a paradigm that hasn’t changed in 50 years,” said Mike Jahnigan, owner of EMECA/SPEUSA and Sun Piledriving Equipment.
Sun Piledriving Equipment LLC has been in business since 2005 and is part of the Sun Group of Businesses owned by Jahnigan, who has headquarters in Bayard, Del. They are an authorized dealer of the Junntan pile driving rig and currently serve the Northeast, Southeast and Gulf regions of the U.S.
Jahnigan’s new plant, EMECA/SPEUSA, located in Laurel, Del., is the first of its kind in the nation, manufacturing piling joints for pre-stressed concrete piles. The piling joints make it possible to join two or more shorter piles together for long-length jobs – saving time, money and energy.
“Through these efficiencies, the use of the EMECA/SPE piling joint becomes not only a cost savings, but a green one as well,” said Jahnigan. “A concrete pile is composed of readily available natural elements: cement, sand, gravel and water; and the cut-offs after being driven are recyclable. Due to the nature of a driven pile, it displaces very little soil and the ground actually becomes more stable and supports the pile.”
The joints ultimately end up in bridges or in buildings more than four stories high.
Also, because of the shorter length of the joints, fewer crew members are needed for each job, no special permits or escorts are needed and multiple piles can be transported on a truck instead of just one, saving trips and fuel.
The plant, the first of its kind in the nation, recently hosted a “green demo day” to show off the piling joints, the robotic machines that manufacturer them and the Junntan pile-driving machines, which are imported from Finland and are available for sale or lease.
According to the manufacturers, the pile-driving machines have easy mobility and transportation, and their engines meet high emission standards and create less noise pollution.
Because it is a purpose-driven pile driver, as opposed to a non-job specific crane, money and energy can be saved all around, and there’s less noise too, said Jahnigan.
“This industry has a bad reputation for noise pollution, and the hammer itself is quiet. At a distance of 100 feet, the decibels are only 85, and that’s unheard-of in the industry,” explained Jahnigan, comparing his work to conventional pile driving equipment.
The plant, built this year, aims to show its commitment to the environment from the inside out. Outside, they have all pavers and permeable surfaces; water cisterns that can be used for rainwater collection that can then be used for “grey-water” irrigation; and four stormwater management bio-retention areas with the objective of providing water-quality treatment, increasing groundwater recharge through filtration and runoff control.
Inside, they have high windows for natural light and to assist with natural heating and cooling; and radiant flooring throughout the plant that uses less fossil fuel than other systems and has health benefits as well as green ones.
“There’s no forced-air heat,” explained Beth Webb, office manager. “So it’s healthier for the air and the lungs of the workers.”
They have bamboo flooring in all the offices and natural granite flooring in common areas, as well as low-flow toilets and all Energy Star appliances in the kitchen, and a recycling center for cans, bottles and paper.
For more information on EMECA/SPEUSA or Sun Piledriving Equipment, visit the Web site at www.emeca-speusa.com or call (302) 875 0760.