Making Sustainable Achievable: Six keys for implementing an effective sustainability plan

boma090913a1Sustainability has become an integral component of a commercial property's business plan, contributing to top-line growth, a strengthened reputation, cost control and less exposure to risk by enhancing regulatory compliance. One thing is for certain, embracing the concept requires a wide-ranging, yet focused, plan of action. Here are six keys for putting an effective sustainability plan in place:

  1. Analyze waste streams — often this means working with material management companies that track material volumes and perform audits of the waste content to identify reduction opportunities.
  2. Set clear goals — waste reduction goals are set at the corporate level to communicate intentions, build accountability and inspire action. One goal may be to reduce waste by a certain percentage (e.g., reduce landfill waste by 20%).
  3. Start with reduction and reuse — many achieve this by updating policies to minimize the volume of disposable material entering their properties and engaging tenants to reduce material consumption.
  4. Maximize recycling — for materials that can't be eliminated or reused, look next at recycling. Everything from paper, cardboard, plastic, aluminum and electronics can be recycled. Donation banks can find a new life for used furniture and durable goods. Food waste can be composted or used to make alternative fuels.
  5. Continue down the sustainability path — as initial programs take hold, look to become even more innovative by building on what's in place, leveraging success and embracing new approaches and technologies.
  6. Involve people — engagement is an essential part of waste minimization. An effective recycling program is designed for ease, understanding and convenience — with participation integrated into training, and reinforced by clear performance feedback.

Sustainability for the long haul.

Sustainability can be a catalyst that transforms their properties for many years to come. Those that set a goal of "Strategic Sustainability" and commit to achieving it can become a cleaner, greener property … and a stronger one, as well. Far from being the "flavor of the day," establishing a fully sustainable approach will become a lasting foundation to build upon.

A cleaner, brighter future.

As the number of commercial properties embracing sustainability continues to grow, expect more new initiatives and ideas to be launched. If the pattern holds, we will soon be entering an exponential growth phase of sustainability proponents, with many commercial properties achieving long-term visions of zero waste in ways that are both innovative and customized for their particular location.

SOURCE: Waste Management.