The EPA has launched a waste and materials tracking feature in its Energy Star Portfolio Manager, which is a free benchmarking and tracking tool for commercial building owners and managers.
Commercial buildings and manufacturing activities are responsible for as much as 45 percent of the 150 million tons of waste in the US that ends up in incinerators or landfills each year, according to the EPA. The transportation, decomposition and burning of this waste generates greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants.
In addition to shrinking buildings’ environmental footprint, reducing waste and reusing materials more productively through sustainable materials management can help building managers save money, the agency says.
The EPA’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager is already used to measure energy, water and greenhouse gas metrics in more than 450,000 US buildings, representing over 40 percent of US commercial space, as well as in more than 10,000 buildings in Canada.
Now owners and managers using Portfolio Manager will be able to benchmark 29 types of waste across four different management metrics alongside their existing sustainability management indicators. Types of waste include building materials, glass, paper, plastics and trash.
The new waste tracking feature is the culmination of a year-long collaboration between the EPA’s Energy Star and Sustainable Materials Management programs and members of the industry to identify key performance metrics for waste and materials management.
In other efforts to help companies reduce their waste and related emissions, waste management startup Rubicon Global has teamed up with data company Trucost.
“This partnership allows Rubicon customers confidence that their waste and recycling team is accurately measuring their monthly GHG emissions and GHG savings from recycling, composting or anaerobic digestion,” David Rachelson, Rubicon Global’s director of sustainability told Environmental Leader. “Organizations can use that data for internal and external sustainability reporting, including corporate sustainability reports and to pursue zero-waste or other environmental certifications.