The construction industry is one of the most wasteful industries in the world. Estimates reveal that construction and demolition activities account for approximately 40% of the solid waste generated yearly. This statistic amounts to nearly 100 million tons of waste in the United States alone.
Moreover, the construction industry expects to grow significantly in the coming years. The United Nations estimates that the world population will increase by nearly 2 billion people by 2050, which means that there will be an increased demand for housing and infrastructure. Unfortunately, this growth will likely lead to more waste generated by the construction industry.
Businesses must strive to ensure sustainable waste management, and one effective way to do so is through LEED certification. Read on to understand more about sustainable waste management in construction and how LEED certification can help.
What Is LEED?
LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a green building certification system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). LEED provides a framework for builders and developers to create more sustainable, energy-efficient buildings.
LEED-certified buildings usually use less water and energy, generate less waste, And are healthier for occupants than traditional buildings. LEED-certified buildings also typically have a lower carbon footprint than non-certified buildings.
What Is LEED Certification?
LEED certification is a designation awarded to buildings that meet specific criteria set forth by the USGBC. LEED certification can occur at four levels: certified, silver, gold, and platinum.
Your building must earn specific points in several categories to be LEED-certified. These include:
- Sustainable sites
- Water efficiency
- Energy and atmosphere
- Materials and resources
- Indoor environmental quality
The number of points required for LEED certification varies depending on the size and type of building. For example, a small office building will need to earn fewer points than a large building to become LEED-certified.
Why Is LEED certification important in waste management?
LEED certification is essential in waste management because it encourages builders and developers to design and construct buildings that generate less waste. In addition, LEED-certified buildings are more efficient and use fewer resources, generating less waste.
LEED-certified buildings typically have better indoor air quality than non-certified buildings. Poor indoor air quality can lead to various health problems, including respiratory infections, headaches, and and fatigue, which is why it’s critical to consider during new development.
LEED certification also encourages builders and developers to use recycled and recyclable materials in construction projects. Using recycled and recyclable materials reduces the amount of waste generated during construction and demolition activities.
LEED-certified buildings can also have green roofs, which helps to reduce stormwater runoff and improve water efficiency. In addition, LEED-certified buildings sometimes have on-site composting facilities, which reduces the amount of food waste sent to landfills.
In addition, LEED-certified buildings typically use less water and energy than traditional buildings. You'll need to use low-flow fixtures and Energy Star appliances to achieve such a positive outcome.
How can LEED certification benefit your business?
LEED certification can help your business in several ways. First, LEED-certified buildings typically have lower operating costs than non-certified buildings. This is because LEED-certified buildings are more energy-efficient and use less water. Such facilities are ideal for small business owners.
Lower operating costs can lead to increased profits for your business. In addition, LEED-certified buildings often have higher resale values than non-certified buildings. Therefore, if you decide to sell your LEED-certified building in the future, you'll get a higher price than you would for a non-certified building.
LEED certification can also help you attract and retain tenants. Many businesses are looking for LEED-certified buildings because they want to be associated with sustainable, energy-efficient buildings. Therefore, if you have a LEED-certified building, you will likely have an easier time attracting and keeping tenants than if you have a non-certified building.
Finally, LEED certification can help improve your company's image. A LEED-certified building shows that your company is committed to sustainability and environmental responsibility. This idea can help improve your company's reputation and make it more attractive to potential customers and clients.
Ensuring sustainable waste management
In addition to LEED certification, you can do many other things to ensure sustainable waste management in construction projects. Here are some tips:
- Educate employees
- Educate your employees about sustainable waste management. Make sure they know what LEED certification is and why it's crucial. Also, educate them on how to reduce waste during construction projects.
- Use Recycled and Recyclable Materials
- Use recycled and recyclable materials as much as possible during construction projects. These practices may include using recycled lumber, steel, and concrete.
Furthermore, LEED encourages builders and developers to use efficiently sourced materials with a low environmental impact. For example, LEED-certified buildings often contain a high percentage of recycled content in their construction materials.
Reduce the amount of waste you generate
Reduce the amount of waste you generate by recycling construction debris and using reusable packaging materials. Also, ensure to maximize the utility of the materials you do use. For example, use construction scraps to create fillers or soundproofing material.
Work with sustainable vendors
Work with sustainable vendors who share your commitment to sustainable waste management. Make sure they are using LEED-certified building practices and that they are using recycled and recyclable materials.
The primary reason to embrace sustainability in waste management is to protect the environment. However, there are many other benefits of sustainable waste management, including:
- Reducing greenhouse gas emissions
- Conserving resources
- Saving money
- Creating jobs
- Improving public health
- Achieving a Circular Economy
Sustainable waste management is essential for the construction industry. LEED certification can help your business in numerous ways, including reducing operating costs, increasing resale value, attracting and retaining tenants, and improving your company's image.
In addition to LEED certification, you can do several other things to ensure sustainable waste management in construction projects, such as using recycled and recyclable materials and educating employees about sustainable practices.