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Integrative Design Process

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The integrative design process understands that buildings, their components, their use and their place and surroundings are interrelated. Whole building systems observe this principle by involving all stakeholders from project conception through delivery and beyond. Engaging all stakeholders in the design process to create a cross-disciplinary team and using a systems thinking approach helps to identify synergies and benefits that might otherwise go unnoticed, resulting in reduced initial and operating costs and optimizing performance. Solid waste considerations include source reduction, reuse and repair, and resource recovery. Solid waste management is optimized when coordinated with other building systems, including HVAC and IEQ. Collection areas for solid waste and recycling may require additional ventilation and exhaust to maintain adequate IEQ.

The integrative design process brings key players to the table to consider and integrate solid waste management with the operations of the building. Roles and responsibilities should be clearly defined and based on the common objective to balance high performance with low operating costs and conserve resources. Stakeholders can leverage solid waste management to contribute to a circular economy.

Project Manager

The project manager oversees scheduling and the handling of construction and demolition waste and excess furniture, equipment and materials associated with projects, which impact facility resources like loading docks and service elevators. The project manager plans for adequate space, waste collection equipment, and transport of waste by haulers and plays a vital role in tracking and enforcing diversion and recycling of construction and demolition waste.

Custodial Personnel

Custodial personnel are responsible for the collection of waste, recycling, and compost from designated locations throughout the facility. In many facilities, coordinating waste, recycling and compost hauling contracts is the responsibility of the custodial contractor, who can offer advice on how to maximize recycling, identify recycling and compost program improvements, and implement cost-saving opportunities.


The owner wants to maximize the building’s market value and minimize resource use to the level needed to maintain and properly operate the building. An effective solid waste management plan helps to efficiently manage a building’s material streams, maximizing source reduction and resource recovery, while lowering operating costs.

Landscape Architect

The landscape architect is responsible for advising on sustainable landscape design and maintenance, to minimize the amount of waste transported from the facility and to maximize the reuse of organic material onsite, for example by producing soil amendments with organic material collected from composting programs. The landscape architect provides strategies for low-maintenance plants and landscaping, such as xeriscaping, grasscycling, and mulching. These strategies reduce waste, water consumption, fertilizer and pesticide use, and save money.

Interior Designer

The interior designer designs space to minimize the amount of waste that is generated from wear and tear of materials (e.g., carpet tiles); specifies and selects materials that can be disassembled, deconstructed, and recycled by the manufacturer or other recycling company; integrates waste management resources into overall design; and assists with implementation.

Operations and Maintenance Personnel

Operations and maintenance personnel are responsible, in close coordination with the facility manager, for the management of waste, recycling, and compost programs, overseeing the custodial personnel responsible for collection. Operations and maintenance personnel may also be responsible for coordinating waste, recycling and compost hauling contracts and can offer advice on how to maximize recycling, identify recycling and compost program improvements, and implement cost-saving opportunities.

Facility Manager

The facility manager, who sometimes serves as the building’s recycling coordinator, is responsible for procuring waste, recycling and compost services and managing, in close coordination with operations and maintenance personnel, the building’s waste, recycling and compost programs. Solid waste is generated through construction projects or tenant moves, as well as everyday operations. The facility manager aligns decisions about waste, recycling and compost services to lower operational, maintenance, and disposal costs, to increase custodial labor efficiencies, and to deliver a clean and healthy environment to the occupant.


Occupant behavior plays a significant role in determining that waste reduction goals are met. A building’s recycling program should be easy to understand through basic information, signage, and other visual aids. Bringing the perspective of an occupant to the integrative design process ensures the recycling program is designed to meet occupant needs while advancing waste reduction goals.

Food Service Manager

The food service manager advises on sustainable concessions contracts, consistent with federal sustainability and health and wellness guidance, and works with vendors to implement sustainable concessions programs. The food service manager can identify waste reduction opportunities, from the design to the operation of the cafeteria. They can require the cafeteria vendor to purchase bio-based and recyclable packaging, collect recyclable and compostable waste, and communicate the environmental benefits of the design and product choices in the cafeteria.

Green Team

A green team, comprised of occupants/tenants and operations and maintenance personnel who champion the adoption of sustainable practices and educate fellow occupants, is critical to successful waste, recycling, and compost programs. The green team can encourage source reduction, recycling and rethinking purchasing policies among fellow occupants, service providers, building users, and operations and maintenance personnel. The green team can also educate stakeholders about the connection between robust recycling programs and purchasing policies that require recovered material content, such as the EPA’s Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines Program.

Project Manager Custodial Personnel Owner Landscape Architect Interior Designer Operations and Maintenance Personnel Facility Manager Occupant Food Service Manager Green Team


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