If used inside, ensure that solid waste compactors are supplied with an adequate amount of fresh outside air and vented directly to the outside and not recirculated within the building’s HVAC system. All equipment used for the management of solid wastes must be cleaned and maintained on a quarterly basis at a minimum to ensure smooth operation of ongoing waste management services for the building. Special care must be taken with outdoor installations to reduce/eliminate pests and unauthorized usage by non-building management personnel. Odors of any sort (i.e., cleaning solvents or air fresheners) may provide an unpleasant odor that may cause headache or nausea by property occupants. To decrease unwanted pests and control odors, food waste collection for offsite composting needs to be in properly contained, well-ventilated areas, and regularly picked up for disposal.
Solid Waste & Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ)
Landscaping: Conserving Water & Reducing Waste
A sustainable landscape design and maintenance plan can reduce water consumption and waste generation. Planting vegetation that has low demand for water (xeriscaping), as appropriate for site conditions and climate, can simultaneously reduce the amount of landscape organic waste disposed. Recovering landscape trimmings, for use as compost or mulch, reduces the need for irrigation and conserves water. These sustainable landscape design and management practices have the added benefit of saving money through reduced water consumption, reduced waste disposal, reduced need for fertilizers and pesticides, and reduced labor for landscape maintenance.
Sustainable Sites Initiative, 2009. The Sustainable Sites Initiative: Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks 2009.
Solid Waste & Lighting
When upgrading your lighting system, consider the bulb lifespan and the waste stream generated by burnt-out bulbs. Fluorescent tubes and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) require special handling due to their mercury content. Light-emitting diode (LED) fixtures have a higher first cost, but have a longer life and do not contain mercury (a toxic metal).
Cafeteria, Composting, & Recycling Contracts
Ensure agreement between your food service team’s goals and your waste diversion targets by aligning the terms of your cafeteria, composting, and recycling contracts. When changing one contract, consider the impact on the behavior of staff employed by the others.
Solid Waste, Signage, & Employee Onboarding
As you make improvements to your solid waste procedures, the occupants will need to know how to respond to these changes to make the system more effective. Adding composting or recycling containers around the facility is ineffective if the employees do not use them or use them incorrectly. Clearly labeled signs can be used to display what can and cannot go into each container. Announcements to employees can also go a long way in ensuring that new recycling and composting measures are as effective as possible. Consider adding a tour of the recycling, composting, and other waste diversion efforts to the onboarding process for new employees so they kick off the new job with good habits.