By requiring the use of compost in construction and landscape projects, the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) is becoming a model for public agencies seeking to improve their environmental stewardship. Governmental agencies throughout the United States can look toward NYSDOT to see how the public sector is adapting its procurement policies to take advantage of the design and maintenance benefits of compost amended soil.
According to Shelah LaDuc, Director of NYSDOT’s Landscape Architecture Bureau, the agency preserves as much existing natural landscape as possible, but some construction projects require landscape restoration because of the volume of soil disruption. Such instances provide the agency an opportunity to rebuild a healthy soil structure by adding compost, thereby reducing maintenance needs. Compost also provides an added stormwater management value to projects by capturing point source and non-point source pollution, and retaining up to 30% more water than conventional topsoil. NYSDOT requires the use of compost as a best management practice in their specifications and mandate that internal or contracted projects adhere to this practice.
Revisions to NYSDOT’s Standard Specifications will allow for new additional compost products to be used. Broadening the scope of acceptable materials that go into producing finished compost, NYSDOT now accepts compost generated from the following types of feedstocks:
- Biosolids/Composted Sewage Sludge
- Source Separated Organic Waste (SSOW)
- Yard and Leaf Waste
- Agricultural (i.e. compost from manure and bulking agents)
Loosening restrictions on acceptable compost materials can foster niche markets for facilities that handle and generate specific types of the product. Furthermore, municipal authorities that receive state funding from NYSDOT must also adhere to their specifications, thereby spurring potential growth on a local level.
- NYSDOT specification manual (Section 713-15 is on Compost) (2021 PDF)
- Latest available version of NYSDOT Standard Specifications (2021)
Original post from October 29, 2013
Updated July, 12 2021