Zero Waste

Why A Waste Reduction Strategy is Key for LEED 4.1 Certification

January 14, 2021

Achieving waste reduction goals will get your building 30% of the way to attaining Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

Under the new points system of LEED version 4.1, achieving the top scores for waste management can earn 12 out of the 40 points total required for standard LEED Certification.

Moreover, meeting waste diversion goals created by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) will yield financial benefits, operational efficiencies and favorable brand values increasingly sought by customers and prospective employees.

Buildings can gain 4 points by purchasing green consumable products, office furniture, electronic equipment and food & beverages.

LEED offers a range of options and combinations to earn points for green sourcing, in order to support custom solutions. Find the full list here: green building purchasing options.

8 more points are possible by excelling at waste reduction. Let's explore how.

In LEED version 4.1, buildings are required to:

  • Set aside areas to store recyclable materials.
  • Safely store and dispose of lamps & batteries.
  • Record and monitor waste streams of disposable & durable materials.
  • Measure total weight of waste generated for one year.
  • Measure total weight of waste diverted for one year.

The data for total waste generated and diverted, along with occupancy rates, are then entered into the Arc Platform. Arc generates the building's Waste Performance Score on a scale of 1 – 100.

A minimum score of 40 is required, which yields 3 points towards being certified. Reaching the top score bracket of 94+, however, will earn 8 points.

What is required to reach the top tier?

The Waste Performance Score compares your building against similar buildings, so there is an element of competition.

Most buildings have antiquated waste auditing processes, and rarely have modern tools to accurately measure their waste data. Thus, utilizing digital tools and analytics can be a key competitive advantage to vault your building into the top tier.

For example, Zabble recently worked with a large Southern California medical facility to attain LEED certification, yet was unsure how to reduce waste, increase recycling and lower contamination rates.

Like many commercial buildings, the medical facility had no processes to track how much and what kind of waste was being generated, or where it was originating from.

Our first step was to integrate Zabble's mobile platform, Zabble Zero, into the hospital's waste management operations.

Using our tool, staff can enter weight or volume of waste and upload images or notes, along with waste hauler invoices. This data appears in real time, and is immediately accessible on our platform, either in-app or via web dashboard.

The platform provides waste characterization insights, such as total waste generation, diversion and contamination. These insights can be further isolated and visualized by space-type, including building, floor, enclosures, kitchen, desk or hallway.

Using data from Zabble Zero, the hospital took immediate action to right-size their waste hauler service levels, divert waste from the landfill, and create diversion & reduction programs for each floor, based on floor type and the amount of waste being generated.

For example, the 4th floor's waste stream constituted 10% liquid and 12% food waste in the recycling bins. Armed with this data, hospital management used educational campaigns asking staff and visitors to empty liquid from cups and bottles, and make sure that food and soiled paper containers were composted.

After teaming up with Zabble, the hospital achieved:

-20% increase in waste diversion.

-5% reduction in waste generation per capita.

-15% decrease in greenhouse gas emissions.

-20% savings on waste hauler costs.

These benefits resulted from pursuing LEED certification, focusing intently on solid waste and using data to inform and empower their waste reduction strategy.

Discover how Zabble can help you attain green building certification: