LEED Reporting – Solid Waste Management

LEED Reporting – Solid Waste Management


LEED: Solid Waste Management as it pertains to Electronic Waste


What is Electronic Waste?

Electronic waste (e-waste) is categorized as any electronic equipment that is near or at the end of its useful life – if it plugs into a wall or has batteries, it will one day be e-waste. E-waste is the quickest-growing source of waste and when not disposed of properly can have serious health impacts for example when chemicals leach from landfills into groundwater systems.

California’s Electronic Waste Recycling Act, along with various federal and local statutes makes it illegal to discard your “end of life” electronic equipment. This program is run by CalRecycle (formerly the California Integrated Waste Management Board) to encourage the three “Rs” of good environmental stewardship: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. By having a solid waste management plan in place for your e-waste, as a property manager you can avoid the legal penalties imposed for dumping these electronics as well as eliminate the cost of storing or disposing of these end of life devices. Additionally you’ll know that your
e-waste isn’t ending up in landfill and that you’re doing your part to help the planet.

What is LEED?

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a worldwide green building rating system that provides a framework to create healthy, highly efficient and cost-saving buildings. Electronic waste itself is considered a subset of solid waste which is one of the metrics that is measured to determine how environmentally sustainable a property or building is operating.

Why get a LEED certification?

As well as saving resources and generating less waste, LEED buildings attract tenants, cost less to operate and boost employee productivity and retention. Adding e-waste to the services provided by your property and obtaining LEED certification can increase the value proposition of your building, allowing property managers to add premiums to their price structure.

A more detailed list of benefits includes:

  • Reduced operations costs.
    • One study found that green buildings showed a decrease in operating costs of 15% for new construction and 13% for retrofits over a period of five years, with payback times of eight and seven years respectively.
  • Higher rents.
    • Many companies are willing to pay more to occupy green properties. LEED-certified units were found to command a rent premium of 9.1%, versus 4.7% for non-certified green properties over market average.
  • Lower vacancy and turnover rates.
    • Green-certified buildings tend to be located in walkable neighbourhoods and are a lot more comfortable than conventional buildings because of their superior weatherization, lighting and ventilation requirements. This means tenants are more likely to renew their lease.
  • Quality assurance.
    • Green-certified construction means everything is up to code and not only ensures that the building will perform as expected, but it also reduces the likelihood of experiencing the ongoing maintenance issues that plague many managers of non-certified buildings.
  • Heightened interest from investors
    • Green certification offers proof that a building is up to code and not only ensures
      that the building will perform as expected, but it also reduces the likelihood of experiencing the ongoing maintenance issues that plague many managers of non-certified buildings.
  • Financial incentives
    • from easier financing to lowered insurance premiums to grants and loans, these
      opportunities can significantly reduce the real cost of construction and maintenance of green-certified buildings.

How does it work?

The LEED rating system is based on earning credits which have an associated number of points. A minimum number of points must be earned for LEED certification. It is possible to get credits for recycling activities, such as solid waste management.
There are four different levels of LEED Certification, each requiring an increasing number of points;

LEED Certification LevelPoints Required
LEED Certified40-49
LEED Silver50-59
LEED Gold60-79
LEED Platinum80+

How do I get points?

It is possible to get 2 points from proper management of ongoing solid waste. To do so, the building must hit the performance measures for both durable goods and ongoing consumables waste. This involves maintaining a waste reduction and recycling program that reuses, recycles, or composts the following:

  • At least 50% of the ongoing consumable (by weight or volume)
  • At least 75% of the durable goods waste (by weight, volume or replacement value)
  • Additionally, safely dispose of all discarded batteries and mercury-containing lamps.
    • Required to provide clearly labeled battery collection bins in high-visibility areas. Identify a qualified, licensed recycler that will recycle the batteries in accordance with state and federal requirements.
    • 100% of mercury-containing lamps to be safely disposed. Establish procedures for handling broken lamps, and have a designated space for storing used lamps before they are collected for recycling.

It is also possible to get 1 extra point for exemplary performance by achieving a higher performance score. This would require a 75% of ongoing consumables performance and a 100% durable goods performance.

What exactly are ongoing consumables / durable goods?

Ongoing Consumable: a product that has a low-cost unit and is regularly used and replaced in the course of business. Examples include paper, toner cartridges, binders, batteries and desk accessories.
Durable goods: products with a useful life of approximately two or more years before being infrequently replaced. Examples include furniture, office equipment, appliances, external power adaptors, televisions and audiovisual equipment.

What is the process?

  1. Register your project by completing key forms and submitting payment.
  2. Apply for LEED certification by submitting your completed certification application and paying a review fee.
  3. Your LEED application is reviewed by the Green Business Certification Inc.
  4. Receive the certification decision.

What are some timeframes?

This performance has to be measured in a period of between 3 and 24 months. Note that all performance periods for certification must end within the same 30-day interval and that the application must be sent within 60 days of the final performance period. Following the first certification, projects must recertify within five years. The project is eligible for recertification as often as every 12 months. The performance period is then running from last certification until recertification. As solid waste management is ongoing the project should always track their performance after being certified.