Top 5 things you should know about waste at USGBC | U.S. Green Building Council
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Top 5 things you should know about waste at USGBC

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At USGBC we care about being responsible with our waste. Here are five things you should know about waste at USGBC.

  1. We compost. Recycling is the law in DC but we like to push ourselves by going above and beyond. Our food waste, as well as the paper towels in the restrooms, is collected twice a week by our vendor, Compost Cab. Our janitorial crew gathers the compostable materials throughout the day and transfers them to two 64-gallon wheeled containers at the loading dock. Here's a tip: don’t forget to scrape the food off your dishes into compost. This will not only save water from less rinsing, but it will also prevent the dishwashers from getting clogged up and put out of service.
  2. Waste diversion directly affects our LEED Dynamic Plaque score. The LEED Dynamic Plaque measures up to date building performance. Waste is one category that scores our space based on waste generated and waste diverted. Our current waste score is high, and this helps us maintain our LEED Platinum certification. When our team walks by the plaque in the lobby, it’s a friendly reminder that we can help improve the score by composting that paper towel or taking a minute to scrape that plate from lunch.
  3. Quarterly waste audits provide valuable metrics. Daily waste tracking performed by our janitorial team provides valuable metrics and may be cross-referenced with data provided in our quarterly audits. The waste audit contractor, Great Forest, sorts through the materials in all of the collected bags of landfill trash, compost, paper and recycled glass/metal/plastic on a quarterly basis. The audits provide us with valuable data on our waste diversion and also identify key areas that we may need to work on. Tracking these metrics helps us manage and maintain the high sustainability standards we set for ourselves. Our most recent reported diversion rate was 74%.
  4. There is always room for improvement. Even with a 74% diversion rate, we know we can do better. Here are a few areas we are focused on improving:
    • Encouraging visitors to divert properly with new bins and updated labeling in our meeting rooms
    • Reminding staff to compost and dispose of coffee cups appropriately
    • Improving the diversion of paperboard/cardboard, plastic containers and compost
  5. Know the rules where you are. Policies may be different where you live vs. where you work, but how we dispose of our daily waste matters no matter where you are. At USGBC we encourage staff to study the signs located in the kitchen that explain what should be tossed where. For example, a neighborhood may not recycle plastic clamshells, but at USGBC we do, along with all rinsed plastics marked 1-7. It also important for us to help make guests aware of our protocol by directing them to the proper receptacles. This just in: on May 1 the office waste rules changed for bottle caps. We’ve just been informed by our waste hauler that we can now recycle both plastic and metal bottle caps if they are still on the bottle. No need to remove them!

Want to learn more about our sustainability efforts around the office? Read about how we compost at USGBC. Have any thoughts or questions? Email Melanie, our manager of facilities.

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Ana Leilani Ka'ahanui

Manager, Communications, LEED Green Associate U.S. Green Building Council
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