The prospect of physically and systematically sorting through all your building’s waste to identify a baseline understanding of your building’s waste can be daunting.
Check to make sure you fully understand the requirements of the credit before deciding not to pursue it, however, because a waste stream audit can provide valuable information about your project—and it can be a cheap credit, if executed properly.
A waste stream audit can provide your team with information about your existing waste management programs that you can’t get through any other means. You may be able to cut your operational costs if your audit reveals any opportunities for source reduction.
A happy MRc6 waste auditor in action. Photo – YRG Sustainability
Problems can arise if your team or hired waste auditor is inexperienced. Be aware that for a compliant audit, you or your auditor must actually analyze the entire waste stream, not just a representative sample (the term “Sampling” as used in the LEED Reference Guide and template refers to a representative period of time, not a portion of the waste stream). Other common errors are auditing only trash (forgetting recyclables), auditing only a portion of the building, or taking eyeball estimates rather than making precise measurements.
No, the waste audit must include all waste generated from the project building over a given time period (usually 24 hours).
If the food waste is collected separately, you should weigh the food waste to include it in your audit results, however you are not required to sort though it.
No, only waste streams that are managed by the building management must be included in the waste audit.
No, the waste audit must be conducted with the project’s performance period. The maximum performance period length is two years.
Plan your audit by determining:
In planning the audit, include all the diverse waste flows that may be generated in the building. These may include:
If your building’s recycling rate is poor, plan to conduct a waste stream audit early in the LEED process. This will give you time to identify opportunities both for improving the recycling rate and implementing appropriate changes before the performance period begins. This will facilitate success under MRc7: Solid Waste Management—Ongoing Consumables.
You can use either weight or volume as your preferred metric, but weight is generally preferable because of its greater accuracy.
Your team may easily be able to conduct the waste audit onsite. All you need are some intrepid team members and a standard bathroom scale.
In dense urban areas, it may be best to move the sorting process off-site.
If the audit is conducted onsite or by project team members, it is worth having some Environmental Health & Safety presence (from in-house or contracted for the day) or contact in case of any safety issues.
Some waste haulers offer waste-sorting services, and many are willing to conduct an audit. If you decide that conducting the audit onsite is infeasible due to space constraints, off-site sorting at the hauler’s facility may be your solution.
If you choose a hauler to run your audit, it is critical to oversee the audit to make sure it meets LEED specifications. If you use separate haulers for waste and recycling, they’ll each have to do their own audit.
Determine the best time period over which to collect the waste sample. Typically, project teams audit the amount of waste generated over the course of a standard 24-hour day (not a holiday or half-day). Buildings should collect a sample over a longer time period if they expect significant variation from day to day—the key is to pick a day or time period that is actually representative. Do it right so you get something out of it.
Inform the housekeeping staff that, when collecting waste for the audit, they should maintain the separate streams that currently exist. For example, if your building individually collects commingled recyclables, batteries, fluorescent bulbs, and general garbage, the housekeeping staff should maintain those separate collections during the audit.
Work with the housekeeping staff to make sure they understand how to collect the materials to be sorted. Housekeeping staff should know to keep the recycling streams separate from the general garbage. They also should store the sample materials in a place where they will not be disposed of and should not throw out any of the materials collected during the sample period.
This is not an expensive credit. If your project team conducts the audit itself, you may require some extra hired help to collect the sample, then sort and track the results. If you hire a waste collector to conduct the audit, however, this will entail some additional cost.
Do not notify building occupants (other than the housekeeping staff) before conducting the waste audit. Advance warning could spur temporary improvement, yielding unrepresentative results. Accuracy, not a specific performance level, is what’s relevant to this credit.
Research the recycling rules that govern the project building prior to conducting a waste audit in order to accurately assess whether have items have been recycled properly or not.
Physically going through the trash is an inescapable part of this credit. You can do it in-house or work with your vendor, however. Photo – YRG SustainabilityProject teams must physically go through the garbage and recyclables to conduct the audit. Shortcuts such as extrapolating the recycling rate from generic data of similar-sized buildings or rule-of-thumb figures are not acceptable approaches. The same is true for applying overall hauler results.
Both landfill waste and recycling waste must be audited, along with any other streams.
When analyzing audit results, look for missed recycling and source-reduction opportunities. Note the number of recyclables that are thrown in the trash, as well as recurring waste that could be eliminated completely. For example, if paper towels are a major component of the unrecyclable waste stream, consider installing efficient hand dryers. (See the source reduction guide in the Documentation Toolkit for tips on source reduction for individual waste types.)
Use the waste audit to determine whether more education about recycling procedures is needed for occupants—for example, understanding what qualifies as recyclable, and which receptacles are for which materials.
Post the audit results in the building to help occupants understand the impact of their actions. Consider publicizing information about typical recycling rates in your region to show how your building compares. Communicate a plan for a follow-up audit to gauge the building’s improvement over time.
A waste audit is the perfect opportunity to verify that your battery and lamp recycling programs are working, and also to verify that no durable goods or construction waste are slipping into the ongoing consumables waste stream.
Be sure to include in the waste audit report a rationale for why the time period you choose to do the waste audit was representation of a typical work day/week/or other time period (i.e. not on a holiday).
Excerpted from LEED 2009 for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance
To facilitate the reduction of ongoing waste and toxins generated by building occupants and building operations that are hauled to and disposed of in landfills or incineration facilities.
Conduct a waste stream audit of the building’s entire ongoing consumablesOngoing consumables have a low cost per unit and are regularly used and replaced in the course of business. Examples include paper, toner cartridges, binders, batteries, and desk accessories. waste stream (not durable goodsDurable goods have a useful life of 2 years or more and are replaced infrequently or may require capital program outlays. Examples include furniture, office equipment, appliances, external power adapters, televisions, and audiovisual equipment. or construction waste for facility alterations and additions). Use the audit’s results to establish a baseline that identifies the types of waste making up the waste stream and the amounts of each type by weight or volume. Identify opportunities for increased recycling and waste diversion. The audit must be conducted during the performance period.
Understanding waste production patterns in a building is an important first step to waste reduction. Work with your waste hauler or service provider to collect and analyze information on the amounts and types of waste generated by the facility.
WasteWise is a free, voluntary EPA program that U.S. organizations can use to track, manage, and reduce their municipal solid waste and select industrial wastes.
This online document offers strategies and case studies for reducing workplace waste generation.
The California Integrated Waste Management Board has provided this online resource for waste characterization. This site is useful in determining how much paper, glass, food waste, and other materials are discarded in the waste stream.
A required component of credit documentation, the waste stream audit report, with a template and sample shown here, should include a description of the audit procedure, a description of the collection of audited waste and the timing of the audit, and a narrative showing that the audited material is representative of the building's typical waste stream. The report should identify whether the audited waste was measured by weight or volume.
The following links take you to the public, informational versions of the dynamic LEED Online forms for each EBOMEBOM is an acronym for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance, one of the LEED 2009 rating sytems.-2009 MR credit. You'll need to fill out the live versions of these forms on LEED Online for each credit you hope to earn.
Version 4 forms (newest):
Version 3 forms:
These links are posted by LEEDuser with USGBC's permission. USGBC has certain usage restrictions for these forms; for more information, visit LEED Online and click "Sample Forms Download."
This sample LEED Online form with sample data and tips demonstrates how to document MRc6.
Hi, I have a client who is concerned about going through bathroom waste and would like to earn this credit by sorting and weighing all other waste except bathroom waste. Does anyone have experience earning this credit while not sorting bathroom waste?
Jubilee. A question to start off with. Why are you 'sorting' bathroom waste? Surely there is only paper towels in the bin and this would be bagged separately and weighed as a single bagged item. Either those bags are going to trash, or compost, or other designated local use. Let us know, Thanks
Sorry for not being more clear. Yes the client would like to just bag and weigh the bathroom waste (and assume that it is all paper towels without actually sorting through this waste stream). Without actually dumping the bathroom waste and looking through, we of course cant 100% guarantee that it is only paper towel waste. Does assuming that bathroom waste is 100% paper towels waste seen Ok to you?
Jubilee. Thank you, that's a relief. Yes in practice no-one that I've every worked with sorts bathroom waste...we just weigh based on the closed bags. Now, you are quite right, contamination can be a problem. We find that education in the building, signage on each of the towel dispensers, monitoring of the waste bins (in-case you can catch a 'contaminator' in the act), etc, can go a long way to getting a 100% paper towel only bag. If the towels are going to compost then a compostable bag would be a great advantage, but agreed that these can cost.
Our project is located in Ithaca, NY and curbside recycling pickup has moved into a single stream recycling collection. With this in mind, I shouldn't have to separate out and weigh each type of material -glass, metal cans and foil, cardboard, plastics, paper- right? I should be able to weigh our recycle bin and list all of the materials instead it rather than report the weight of each waste type? I was also thinking to include some information about the curbside policy from the solid waste and recycling agency website.
What do you think? Thanks much!
Actually you will indeed still need to sort materials from the single-stream collection Courtney. Remember that the purpose of the waste audit is not only to assess the overall relative amount of recycled vs non-recycled waste leaving the building - it is also to identify the constituent parts of both streams so as to assess the degree to which you are successfully diverting each type of recycle-able material FROM the trash. Unless you figure out how much newspaper (for example) is going to the curb in your single-stream bin (and in your landfill-directed waste container), you won't know if that represents 10% of the overall newspaper waste leaving the building or 90%. The difference tells you a great deal about the effectiveness of your diversion efforts for that material and can guide changes to your program. Those are the key insights the credit intends to reveal.
Hope that helps,
I have been curious and a bit frustrated by this credit and its requirements. In your experience, how much of a difference does it make to know the exact percentage of the waste that is being DIVERTED/RECYCLED? I understand why you would need to know what each type of waste is that goes to a LANDFILL, but why does it matter with the recycled side? Granted, the extra effort of sorting co-mingled recycled materials gives a neatly packaged percentage, but isn't the intent here to find out the effectiveness waste management program and where to focus efforts? How does having the percentage of all newspaper that was recycled lead to a better recommendation than would knowing the percent of the landfill waste that was newspaper? A facility could be throwing away 100% of its newspaper, but if newspaper is 1% of the landfilled waste, there are better places the facility staff could be spending its time.
It doesn't seem like it would be difficult for someone familiar with the building and its population to determine whether x pounds of a material landfilled is closer to 90% or 10% of the material that is used in the building and thereby make the appropriate determination for the changes to make in a building’s waste management plan. If it really is that hard to determine where the diverted percentage falls in the range or is likely somewhere in the middle, then I would assert that you go after it if it is a significant portion of your total LANDFILLED waste.
Is this extra effort and brain damage worth the extra knowledge?
I think you are asking all the right questions about this credit. Although almost any facility seeking EBOMEBOM is an acronym for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance, one of the LEED 2009 rating sytems. can earn MRc6, its not 'easy' for anyone. Sorting through all that waste is a relatively unpleasant and time-consuming task. For many buildings, a comprehensive waste audit is really informative about diversion successes and opportunities. My experience is that most building operators have only a rough sense of the components of their waste stream, and that understanding can become outdated as tenants and/or space uses change. Understanding both the components of the diverted and non-diverted waste can actually be quite important in terms of allocating resources to improve even a very strong recycling program.
The requirement for sorting diverted waste is, as you've noted, to identify the opportunities that are not being maximized. Diverting 100lbs of newspaper per day is great if you are only generating 110lbs total, but its lousy if you're generating 1000lbs a day. A building operator can certainly guess or estimate those rates, but without auditing diverted waste, they won't know for certain. (Think of this as similar to water or energy metering - most building operators have a general idea as to how much water they use for irrigation or other end uses, but without a meter the just don't know. The waste audit is like attaching a one-time waste meter to your building.)
That being said, for some buildings the knowledge gained will indeed be marginal, and it may simply confirm what you already believed about your recycling program. For those buildings, the value inherent in confirmation (and the LEED point) may not be worth the extra time and effort. And that's exactly why the waste audit, which was formerly a mandatory prerequisite in EBv2.0, became an optional credit in EBOM. Buildings for whom the methodology required by LEED is not productive shouldn't be required to do it, and the current rating system allows for that decision.
And after all that, I will also note that sorting the diverted portion of the waste stream is, in my experience, the faster and more readily-completed portion of this undertaking. Separating cans from bottles or weighing barrels of newspaper is infinitely more pleasant than pulling recycle-ables out of the actual trash. Ugh.
So in sum, to answer your final question, I would say that the extra effort is marginal, the brain damage will largely result from smelling day-old caesar salads and chinese food in the landfill-directed waste rather than the diverted waste, and the extra knowledge gained will, although variable from building to building depending on the sophistication of your waste tracking system, likely be worth that additional marginal effort.
Sorry for the lengthy response. Waste audits fire me up!
We are required to sort & weigh ALL building waste in our audit, but what about small tenant-managed recycling programs? For example, my project building's janitorial staff collects all tenant waste and paper/cardboard recycling. However during my walkthrough I noticed that some tenants have various individual recycling programs for recyclables such as blue prints, confidential shredded paper, and glass/plastic beverage containers. The building managers and janitorial staff are not responsible for managing these tenant-driven recycling programs. Do we need to include these recyclables in our audit?
For our waste audit, we are isolating a 24-hours of waste collection to weigh and sort. However, much of the recyclables are collected every few weeks. Do we have to isolate 1-day's worth of recycling also? What if we are working to get figures from private with shredded paper companies and they only know the amount of shredded paper on a weekly basis?
Thanks for your help!
Sounds like you have some great tenants:
Q1. Yes...every thing must be included. If the tenants are sorting their own recycles then they must be able to track what they do with them, Shredded paper usually goes thru a third party contractor, start getting the receipts from your tenants. Where are your tenants dropping the recycles...are they selling the aluminium for example...then get the receipts.
Q2. The purpose of the audit is two fold, the first is to gain the % of each type of recycle in each of the current recycle streams and to see how 'clean' each stream is and then to find the % of the total which is trash.
The second is to create a report showing what the % of trash COULD have been recycled and set up processes to make this happen. Example. Your audit shows that the recycle bins from the tenants contain only 10% of the aluminimum cans from the total stream...as you've found that the trash contains another load of cans which didn't get into the recycle. Your job is then to educate, create new process or 'wave the magic wand' to increase the aluminimum recycle rate to the highest % you can get...hopefully 100%. The trash audit also shows up what items are in the stream that can never be recycled...lets just say for this example that's polystrene. Well you could say that we can't recycle that so it has to stay in the waste stream...but what about going to the tenant who's producing that item and dropping it in the trash...is there a methodology can can be implemented that could encourage the tenant NOT to use that polystrene and then it wouldn't end up in the trash.
My guys LOVE this dumpster dive...
What would be the best way for a building to document their audit if they contract for single stream waste/recycling? The occupants do not sort anything – both waste and recycling go into single containers and are picked up by the hauler completely comingledA process of recycling materials that allows consumers to dispose of various materials (such as paper, cardboard, plastic, and metal) in one container that is separate from waste. The recyclable materials are not sorted until they are collected and brought to a sorting facility.. The hauler brings the load to their off-site sorting facility where everything gets pulled out that can be recycled. The management is then provided with a monthly report on what was landfilled and what was recycled. Could the average monthly recycling percentage based on the monthly reports during the 3-month performance period be applied to the waste specifically collected for the audit?
Both New York City and San Francisco provide this type of ComingledA process of recycling materials that allows consumers to dispose of various materials (such as paper, cardboard, plastic, and metal) in one container that is separate from waste. The recyclable materials are not sorted until they are collected and brought to a sorting facility. (all-in) service and, as I understand, for San Francisco the law requires haulers to find a use for 100% of all materials in the waste stream including compostables. Sooo - looks like the intent of LEED has been more than met here and I have the same question as Terry above for how to manage this type of condition.
Terry and Walter, thanks for the question, yes this comes up a lot, especially when districts start co-mingle recycle. The point of the credit of a waste stream audit is to actually measure, as accurate as possible, what is in the total waste stream. While we applaud the co-mingled option, what is in the waste stream itself? While many buildings do an excellent job of recycling we all know that in fact in the waste (trash) stream there is still materials that could go into the recycle. That’s the first reason for doing the audit to point out the fact that there is more ‘action’ that could be undertaken. The second reason is to pinpoint what there is in the trash stream that we cannot recycle right now….let’s take polystyrene as an example. After doing a full count in the audit we could find that the trash stream contains 50% polystyrene. What are we going to do with it?...currently there may be no ‘recycle’ options…can we the create one?....what about finding out who is putting that quantity of polystyrene in the waste…(back when computer monitors arrived in big boxes with lots of packing, one method was to ‘suggest’ that the manufacturer took back the polystyrene blocks)…can we then suggest that different methods of packing be suggested to suppliers so WE don’t have to handle the non-recycle pieces.
The target is to get to Zero Waste…and 100% recycle.
Specifically for the MR c7 (Reuse, recycle or compost 50% of the ongoing consumablesOngoing consumables have a low cost per unit and are regularly used and replaced in the course of business. Examples include paper, toner cartridges, binders, batteries, and desk accessories. waste stream (by weight or volume), you will need the total weight of the recycled/co-mingled and percentage this against the TOTAL weight of trash and recycle leaving the building. Don't forget any weight created from batteries, compost, etc.
Oh...and happy dumpster diving!
Has anyone successfully used this credit (EBOMEBOM is an acronym for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance, one of the LEED 2009 rating sytems. - 2009 - MRc6 Solid Waste Managment - Waste Stream Audit) to achieve an innovation and design credit under the LEED 2009-NC rating system?
Is there any reason to think it wouldn't work?
Tim, I haven't done it but I have no reason to think that it wouldn't work.
I'm not sure about NC, however we have successfully used the requirements of MRc4 as part of a comprehensive waste reduction strategy for an ID point for a LEED CI project.
Senario: Building not currently recycling. Have arranged waste hauler to begin as soon as construction ends (and demolition dumpster is off loading dock in urban site).
We will probably not collect enough data in the performance period to eran MRc7, but we would still like to pursue MRc6. If 100% of waste stream is directed to landfill, and we audit this stream, is that sufficient to meet MRc6?
This is a medical office buildign that has hazardous medical waste that is picked up from a seperate vendor. We will completly exclude this weight adn volume from all calculations, is this appropriate?
Q1: According to the reference guide, in order to achieve MRc6 you must analyze both the disposal waste stream (landfill or incineration) and the diverted waste stream (recycling, composting, reuse). If there is no diverted waste stream, I don't believe you can achieve MRc6.
Q2: Yes, that is appropriate. Hazardous medical waste should not be included in the audit.
I would defer to Brittany, but I am surprised—I think that if 100% of the waste stream is landfilled, you could audit that and earn the credit. However, you do have to identify opportunities for reducing waste going to the landfill, so if you intend to continue landfilling 100% of waste even after the audit, then the effort is wasted and you wouldn't be meeting the credit requirements.
Good point Tristan. I think it is unclear from the credit language in the reference guide to determine if it is acceptable or not to earn MRc6 if you don't have recycling in the project building during the performance. But it seems implied to me.
If the building has no recycling in place before the performance period starts, then theoretically you would have problems documenting MRp2: Solid Waste Management as well.
If the project building is in a location (for instance, in some locations outside of the U.S.) that does not have the infrastructure to support a recycling program, then I would imagine that some leniency would be granted for these credits.
Has anybody out there dealt with this situation before?
Interesting situation and I think both Brittany and Tristan have offered great insights here. As I see it, even with 100% landfill-directed waste, earning MRc6 should be feasible. The concept of a waste audit is fundamentally based on the idea that the first step towards improving diversion rates is to understand your waste stream - that principle should hold whether your current diversion rate is 90% or 0%.
That being said, I think Brittany's point about MRp2 is important. Although EBOMEBOM is an acronym for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance, one of the LEED 2009 rating sytems. does not establish a minimum diversion rate for achieving certification, inherent in MRp2 is an expectation that a diversion program of some sort is in place. In some circumstances (outside the US, as noted) it may be difficult to divert even 5% of waste, but if your SWMP is going to fly, it should detail exactly how you plan to get at least some fraction of your waste stream out of the landfill.
I would also note one clarification on Tristan's response; although the credit does require that you identify opportunities for increased diversion, there is no corresponding requirement that you seize, or even consider seizing, those opportunities. The act of identifying the opportunities is enough, in much the same way that elsewhere in the rating system you are rewarded for simply metering resource consumption. In this instance, the credit is about data collection and analysis, not the actions or outcomes that result. In other words, MRc6 is sort of like metering for your trash. . .
Hope that helps,
If a project has 2 separate haulers (one for trash, and one for recycling), then is it necessary to conduct both audits at the same time? Will the credit be denied/pending if the trash audit was conducted one day, and then 30 days later the recycling audit? (assuming both audits meet requirements, occur during the performance period, and happen on normal-operating/non-holiday days). Thanks!
I think this would be acceptable as long as you clearly demonstrate that each separate audit examined all of the waste (either trash or recycling) that was generated at the project building for an equivalent amount of time. So, your collection period should be the same for each audit (i.e. 1 day, 1 week, etc.). As long as you can show that each audit is representative of the total building waste stream, it should be fine.
We are currently trying to determine an adequate and manageable approach to this credit. Here is our scenario
- We currently have daytime janitorial service (6am – 2:30pm).
- Trash is removed in the middle of the day just after lunch and removal takes about an hour.
- We have weekly desk-side trash pickup so that only a ¼ of the building’s desk-side trash is removed each day.
- All common trash and composting areas are removed on a daily basis.
- Deskside recycling is the responsibility of the individual tenants.
- Tenants dump deskside recycling into large common recycling roll carts that are removed only when full (about every other day).
I have two questions:
1. We are trying to avoid collecting a weeks worth of waste, which would be in the range of 60 yards of trash, 150 roll carts of recycling (95 gallons each) and 30 roll carts (95 gallons each) of compost. Would it possible to do a 24 hour sort? We have thought about a 24 hour period as 2:30pm – 2:30pm and having the janitorial staff pull all the waste for 2 days - the first day to clear the building and the second day for the audit. One problem is that some trash would be pulled at 1:30 and the last bit of trash would be pulled at 2:30 (would the hour over lap matter)? And is ok to make this switch in service for the audit purposes?
2. How have other individuals dealt with self-service desk-side recycling? Does the waste audit team remove it? Or is not considered “waste” until individuals place in the correct common location? We worry that if we pull self-service recycling bins some people may need a document they thought they could recycling…It’s almost like an in-between area.
Any help would be appreciated!
Wendy, just a quick clarification: the 24-hour collection period is typical and definitely acceptable, however, you must include ALL waste generated in the project building in your audit. Sampling of the waste stream is not allowed in any form. So, you'll need to coordinate a pick-up of all desk-side bins as part of your audit procedure.
Thanks for the clarification. As we should not tell tenants about the audit, any suggestions on dealing with people who might need a document they have recycled? Could we just inform them that we will be collecting all waste for two days - but not state why?
I would want to avoid sending any signal that people should not recycle stuff on the day of the audit.
Do you have any reason to think that this is an issue. Recycling gets picked up from desks weekly so people must be used to seeing their stuff go away. If they are using the recycling bin as a file cabinet I think that's their issue, not yours.
Right now we currently only have weekly deskside trash pickup, not recycling. Deskside recycling is completely up to the tenant. They have to dump their own deskside recycling in the community recycling bins in the break rooms when they decide to. Unfortunately, its not a service we provide.
I know from personal experience that sometimes I'll put something in my deskside recycling and then decide I still need it and take it back out before I dump it, which is kind of why it is a grey area and letting people know might allow them to make sure they have only disposed things they really do not want. As it is something that tenants currently are responsible for it almost feels like a slight invasion of privacy.
I see—I hadn't realized that. If I were in your shoes I would let them know that as a one-time thing, desk-side recycling will be emptied by cleaning staff sometime in the next two weeks—giving them fair warning but probably not causing any change in behavior.
I like that approach. Thanks for working it through with me.
I want to make sure what I have is adequate before performing my waste stream audit. On page 301 of the reference guide at the bottom of the page it states "Consider at a MINIMUM, using the waste categories identified in the audit form in the EXAMPLES section. On page 303 the sample list includes 14 different items. The sample audit summary in documentation section of LEEDuser shows a smaller list of items and LEED Online only shows you about 6 with the option to add/delete rows. If I follow the LEEDuser sample, would that qualify or do I need to break down computer paper, ledger paper, mixed paper, newspaper, magazines.....? - Thanks in advance.
The sample provided in the documentation toolkit on LEEDUser is perfectly fine. Some waste management companies offer very detailed auditing services to help a client really fine tune the strategies needed to improve their recycling rates. Your best guideline is the categories listed on the LEED credit form. These categories are: metal, mixed paper, cardboard, glass, plastics, wet waste, and landscape waste. If your audit addresses these categories, you will be just fine.
In reading the documentation audit report, it states all landscape material and sensitive papers are excluded from the calculation as all of the landscape material is composted and all sensitive papers are recycled. Is it safe to state this for our reports or would we need to weigh our landscape waste material?
This leads into my next question for MRc7, again the sensitive papers/landscape material is 100% recycled or composted, are we required to weigh this or can we exclude it from our calculation?
For MRc6, it's fine to exclude shredded paper and composted landscape waste, since those materials are not collected for disposal by the building maintenance/janitorial staff.
For MRc7, leaving those materials out of your calculations is allowed, but consider your actions carefully, since including shredded paper and landscaping waste may actually help your overall performance level. Some companies that securely manage shredded documents are willing to share the monthly amounts (as long as they aren't asked to divulge any sensitive information) and if your landscaper is hauling landscape waste away from your site to compost somewhere else, they may have some way to measure the total amount.
My project handles old HVAC equipment, compressor oil, and other miscellaneous waste for its clients. These waste streams are essentially pass-through items—unloaded from trucks and held for a short time before haulers pick them up.
Should these items be included in our waste stream audit? They seem more difficult to track and are not technically generated by the building occupants.
Sounds to me like this describes items as part of a business process and not items that would be conventionally understood as "waste" generated by the building. If that sounds right, I would say that these items do not need to be tracked. But I would be curious what anyone else thinks?
I agree - this waste is not generated at your project site and therefore would not be included in a waste stream audit.
Working with an HVAC Contractor / Mechanical Engineering firm to LEED their building. They take delivery of equipment packaged in cardboard and on pallets. They install the equipment on customer sites and return all packaging material to the building site for disposal. If we exclude discarded mechanical equipment brought to the site for specialized disposal, do we still need to audit the packaging material?
Second, materials ordered and inventoried within the premises are also packaged in cardboard and shipped on pallets. Would the refuse created from these items be included in the audit?
Third, subtenant is a mattress showroom and warehouse. Receives delivery of mattresses and returns old mattresses to the building for disposal. Is this considered waste attributed to business processes which can be excluded from waste audit?
The project that I am working on has one single waste hauler. As per NYC regulations all the trash and recycling are in separate bags, but other than that everything is sorted off site. We have space to conduct an audit on site, but we will not know exactly what is ultimately ending up at landfills and what is ultimately being recycled. Our problem is that when looking at the Waste Audit Summary template we need to weigh what is going to the 'Landfill Stream' and what is going to the 'Diversion Stream'. 100% of what we are weighing and separating is going to a sorting facility. Can we use the overall percent diversion rates (for each waste type) that the facility provides us with when calculating what pounds goes to the diversion stream and what goes to the landfill stream?
If anyone needs more clarity about my situation, don't hesitate to ask.
Kevin, it seems likely that the approach you're suggesting could work. A similar issue often occurs in LEED-NC MRc2: Construction Waste Management, and using the facility diversion rates works there.
The intent of the summary table is to help the building management understand what materials are generated at what rates, and also how effective occupants are at sorting their waste according the buildings separation strategy (presumably it's best when recyclables get into the recycling bags, because the sorting facility has a higher recovery rate/less contamination).
So, my opinion is that using the values that the hauler supplies is not the most useful here (though very useful for documenting MRc7). I would recommend entering the weights and types associated with the trash bags as "Landfill Stream" (even if some of the material gets sorted out and recycled eventually) and the weights and types associated with the recycling bags as "Diversion Stream".
100% of our building waste is sent to for off-site sorting that typically recycles 63% of all waste. In achieving this credit we may propose to our vendor to collect waste for a 24 hour period and then weigh the total. Then our vendor would sort and weigh the amount that could be recycled, and then subtract the recycled amount from the original total to what really is going to the landfill. Does this seem accurate?
I'm not totally sure what you mean by "then subtract the recycled amount from the original total to what really
is going to the landfill."
However, I would be concerned that this approach is not going to be really effective for your project. It sounds like you'd basically be asking your vendor to do what they normally do, and then report the numbers to you. It sounds more like they're auditing their own performance—which doesn't really make sense.
Rather than just using the overall % diversion rate, is their a better approach to this credit? My thought was: if there was 500 lbs sent to the sorting station we would have the vendor seperate the 500 lbs from all other waste and sort it out providing us with an actual weight that is being diverted from the landfill - lets say 200 lbs (recycled), we would then say only 300 lbs is being sent to the landfill and 200 lbs is being recycled.
You need to reports types of waste by weight or volume. There's a bunch more info on this above.
I still don't get why you would want your own vendor to do this for you. Seems like this would be a good chance to see how effective their service is at diverting waste. The whole goal of this credit is to improve waste diversion.
We may choose to do the sorting ourselves onsite to evaluate our vendor, perhaps we could even do it at their facility in our presence. I understand the goal is improve waste diversion but with our current structure, 100% of waste is lumped together and then sorted to recycle everything possible, I guess the one thing that could improve is creating a method to prevent tainting potential recycables.
I think that if you gave the same container of comingledA process of recycling materials that allows consumers to dispose of various materials (such as paper, cardboard, plastic, and metal) in one container that is separate from waste. The recyclable materials are not sorted until they are collected and brought to a sorting facility. waste to 10 different vendors, they would have several different diversion rates. I bet it would cluster around one rate, but there might be some outliers, good and bad. This seems like a chance to check up on how your vendor is doing.
Other things to improve on, as you allude to, might be recycling smaller volume recyclables that get lost, like e-goods, batteries, metals, etc.
Hi, I was wondering about the timeline. The reference guide reccomends performing the waste audit early in the performance period so improvements can be made over most of ther performance period. But I'm a little confused, don't all the performance periods for all the credits have to terminate within one week of each other and the performance period for this credit will be a typical trash collection cycle ( so maybe one week, I'm estimating). So in order for the performance periods to terminate within one week of each other you would have to perform the audit towards the end of the timeline. Can someone please help me clarify? Thanks.
Hi Rachael -
You are correct that all of the performance periods need to end at the same time, though this “alignment window” has been changed from 7 days to 30 days (see the Reference Guide Addenda at www.usgbc.org/ShowFile.aspx?DocumentID=6395).
The performance period for this credit has the same requirements as all other performance periods - it must be at least 3 months in length, but no more than 24 months in length. The actual waste audit you conduct must occur within that performance period, but your waste audit can be of a day's waste, or of a week's waste, or some time period in between. You do not need to audit all the waste produced during the performance period.
A waste audit is a one-time activity that gives you a snapshot of your waste streams and helps you identify methods to improve waste diversion. For credits such as MRc7 (Solid Waste Management - Ongoing ConsumablesOngoing consumables have a low cost per unit and are regularly used and replaced in the course of business. Examples include paper, toner cartridges, binders, batteries, and desk accessories.), on the other hand, you would need to quantify the waste diverted over the entire performance period; this credit focuses on quantifying ongoing performance. MRc6 (Solid Waste Management - Waste Stream Audit), on the other hand, is about analyzing your waste stream in detail and identifying opportunities for improvement. MRc6 is not concerned with your exact level of performance but instead focuses on processes to help you improve diversion rates.
We have been asked to conduct a waste stream audit by the certification team after preliminary review (consequently, after the performance period).
1) How does this affect the performance period if we do conduct one now?
2) Will it be acceptable to conduct one even if it is after the performance period for all other credits?
3) Do we need to move all the performance periods in order to get this point? Note: earliest credits and pre-requisites related to energy and atmosphere started Jan 2009 and closed Oct 2010, therefore the end of performance period for this intended credit if ever, will be more than 30 days compared to end of performance periods of the rest of the submitted documents.
Hoping for advise from anyone.
For this particular credit, you're allowed to conduct a new audit if requested by the review team in your preliminary review comments. You do not need to adjust any performance periods in your application. Just perform the new audit according to the instructions in your preliminary review and provide the revised documentation in your resubmittal.
I'm surprised to not see other Hospitality sector buildings on here...Our client is a Convention Center with an irregular waste stream that is based on show activity. Would you suggest we conduct the audit when the building is essentially unoccupied (with exception of staff) OR when there is a show in the building... if you recommend the latter, waste stream fluctuates before, during and after the show so would we want to capture the highest volume time? It is difficult to determine a "representative" set. Thank you!
So the good book says 'during the performance period', but when is that for you?. I suppose one could take the initiative and suggest that the audit is in fact completed when there is trash for auditing. This is where the book doesn't fit the actual operation of the building. My suggestion is to complete two audits.
Hi Barry, the performance period issue is OK but you brought up a good point that got me thinking on the 2 separate audits. The building has 2 concourses, for LEED purposes its one building, but for show activity its two. That said, the waste streams are unique and independent of each other during the time we are planning to conduct the audit. Could we justify doing two audits, 1 for each concourse? We would ofcourse follow some of the other suggestions posted here as to how we make this justifiable. Doing this would give the most accurate and representative data, which is the goal and the intent.
Each Concourse...not really. I'm assuming that the waste stream/recycling is in fact held in one holding area until pickup, that is a single recycling compactor, single trash bin, etc. You already said that it's one building for the purposes of LEED, don't give the GBCI room to manouver as to why you want to do two audits!!!!
There are 14 compactors and 6 open tops evenly divided among the 2 dock areas, which are on opposite sides of the building corresponding with the 2 concourses. Pick ups are done on separate days or with a fleet of trucks depending on if the show is taking up both concourses. So, since we are doing at a time where there are 2 separate shows and individual waste streams would this be justifiable
OK, I see that, but in reality if you have designed/written a comprehensive 'waste policy', then one, two or three locations shouldn't matter, they 'should' all be recycling at the same rate and therefore the two audits that you undertake 'should' have the same results. What may vary is that some shows will produce more of one type of trash item than another.
Ok, so do the two audits in the two separate shows...if the numbers are different be really clear as to why they are different.
This guide provides step-by-step instructions for performing a solid waste stream audit.
Use the following tips to help divert solid waste from landfill or incineration, and increase recycling rates.
Use the results of your audit to inform sustainable purchasing decisions that will ultimately reduce waste.
Conduct a waste stream audit early in your LEED process so that it can inform development of the MRp2 SWM policy.
The waste stream audit supports all the MR credits in some way, but MRc7 in particular, as it can help occupants understand their contributions to the waste stream, and set goals for recycling and diversion.
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