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Waste Studies – Found Money?

Shared by:  Don Beckendorf, Senior Associate
Los Angeles Office

Well maybe but let’s start at the beginning to make some sense of the question.

With the growing emphasis on LEED in the built environment, all parties have gained a better understanding of the “green” values that can work effectively in programming, designing and building.  This is great, but only recently have we seen a shift in focus from building and renovation to control of waste.  After all, it’s the people living and working within the buildings who must have a desire AND an ability to control waste – reduce, recycle and reuse.

The first phase of the LEED process – programming to best understand the desired result, the road to get that result and the bumps along the road – is crucial to defining the best scope for all the parties involved.  So it is with Waste Studies. 

What is a Waste Study? 

To put it simply, it is looking at the programming done by the developer or architect and using that information to quantify the types and amounts of waste that will be generated and what can be done with these materials.  With projects running the course from mixed use developments; to sports and theme parks; to high rise office buildings, hotels and condominiums and to resorts and convention centers, the types of waste materials generated can vary greatly in type and quantity. 

Once the initial information is corralled, then a closer look must be taken to determine, in concert with the overall construction and design, where the waste will be generated and where it must end up.  The challenge becomes how the materials get from point A to point B and what is needed at point B to best handle the material.  A couple of examples might be:

  •  Kitchen and dining room waste – what is done with food waste, paper waste, plastic waste, grease and oil?  What is, or can be, reused or recycled and how will that be done?  What are the capabilities of the waste infrastructure in the local neighborhood, city, county?
  • High-rise condominium – what is done with the daily waste from the individual units?  Can there be efficient use of a waste system to separate the various types of waste?  What can be recycled?  Will the local waste hauler be able to accept all these streams of waste?

 Can the Waste Study save Money?

 Absolutely, and let’s look at a few ways it will.

  •  In design, an accurate waste study will allow the base building plans to insure the correct spacing is allowed for all of the components needed to handle the materials.  This step alone saves monies spent regularly in time, meetings and printing that too often occur if a waste study becomes an afterthought and redesign becomes necessary.
  • In construction, the most cost effective methods can be utilized to best fit the waste system from the generation point to the end point of collection and hauling. 
  • In construction, the correct equipment to accomplish the goals of the waste system is specified and is easily incorporated into the build out of the site.
  • In use, the system is sized correctly to accommodate the quantities of waste generated and retrofitting or construction changes are avoided.
  • In use, the study clearly demonstrates choices available to reduce, reuse or recycle the various streams of waste within the parameters of the local infrastructure.

 Above all – with a Waste Study it is true – Dollars shouldn’t be Wasted!

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