Verdani Partners, a full-service sustainability consulting firm, has a mission to reduce waste among all the portfolios we manage. Waste is often a complicated topic to tackle as there are many restrictions, rules, and vendors to navigate through as well as requiring cooperation amongst tenants, residents, owners, managers, vendors, and property teams. Verdani works with each of our clients to educate all stakeholders on waste best practices.
As a top down measure, we have developed a comprehensive waste management policy and a one-hour waste management webinar available on our website for our clients and soon to the public. This webinar dives into issues we face today with the massive amount of waste we create and offers tips to reduce, reuse, and recycle. We also provide our property teams with trainings on ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager’s new waste tracking features. We work with teams to automate the waste invoices (similar to energy and water invoices) to directly appear on ENERGY STAR within the ‘Waste & Materials’ tab.
Several best practices highlighted in the webinar are:
- Select a recycling coordinator and conduct a waste audit
- Determine which materials to collect for recycling
- Select your collection contractor and design your collection system
- Promote employee/tenant participation
- Conduct annual electronic waste (E-waste) drives
Once our clients have watched our webinars and taken our trainings, they are ready to participate in Verdani’s Green Tenant Challenge, in which tenants compete against each other to be named the greenest workspace or living space. While this competition focuses on all aspects of sustainability, tenants can earn many points for their waste reductions strategies.
While educating tenants and providing interactive ways for them to get involved is crucial to a successful waste management program, it is also important to ensure that property managers are knowledgeable about laws and resources. In California, AB1826 required businesses that generate eight (8) cubic-yards or more of organic waste per week to provide composting services by April 1, 2016. By January 1, 2017, all businesses that generate four (4) cubic-yards or more of organic waste per week were required to establish composting services. Laws such as these are much easier to comply with when a property is knowledgeable about the requirements and have already started to take measures to proactively increase their waste diversion rates.
One of Verdani’s clients, CommonWealth Partners has had tremendous success with waste management and reduction at several properties. In 2015, these properties proactively implemented creative and effective waste management strategies to address the quantity of diversified waste generated at the buildings. Out of the 19 buildings and five states that CommonWealth Partners occupies, seven properties (or 40% of the portfolio) included composting at their buildings. In particular, 560 Mission in San Francisco achieved an astounding 88% diversion rate in 2015. The property surpassed the goals established by the city to divert 75% of waste from the landfill by 2010 and achieve zero net waste by 2020. This impressive diversion was largely a result of the property’s provision of specific types of easily accessible waste receptacles throughout the property including bins for recycling, compost, landfill, textiles, Styrofoam, e-waste, and fluorescent bulbs.
In addition to cost savings from reduced tipping fees, 560 Mission is also able to save a substantial dollar amount on each monthly bill due to city provided incentives. For every percent, up to 75%, of waste diverted from the landfill, 560 mission earns a corresponding percentage that can be discounted from the monthly bill. This can amount to a discount of upwards of $6,800 per month!
560 Mission continues to work together with tenants to establish new and improved waste habits. The following waste reduction strategies have been instrumental in achieving their 88% diversion rate.
Waste Reduction Successes at 560 Mission
- All 3 containers (compost, recycling, and trash) are placed together in every common area, breakroom, private office, and cubicle space
- 560 Mission pays for a Styrofoam recycling service through Universal Waste Management.
- Compost bins are in every restroom for paper towel composting.
- Compost liners in the paper towel receptacles are reused to cut down on cost and unnecessary waste.
- Compactor utilized recycling and compost.
- An e-waste kiosk is provided for collecting
- Ink cartridges
- Plastic Bags
- Fluorescent light bulbs (AERC)
- Lunch and Learns provided for tenants
- Recology, a textile recycling company, offers an ecofriendly option to recycle unwanted textiles by providing drop-off bins located conveniently in the parking garage. Recology will accept donations of usable and unusable clothing items, bedding, towels, rags, and shoes. If the textile cannot be re-used or sold, it will be recycled. Recology puts the textiles back in the use cycle to conserve precious natural resources, therefore preventing greenhouse gas emissions and saving landfill space.
- 560 Mission even employs an onsite waste sorter to ensure the waste going out is in the correct corresponding receptacle, reducing contamination of the waste types.