Designed For Waste/Recycling: AIANY’s Zero Waste Design Guidelines + Waste Calculator

First published Nov. 2017.


After a year of collaboration among architects and New York waste professionals (including Great Forest), AIANY/Center for Architecture has launched their Zero Waste Design Guidelines to encourage building design that facilitates recycling and waste diversion. The guidelines also include a handy waste calculator to help property managers calculate value of diversion.

Designing For Optimal Waste And Recycling

While many architects pay attention to a building’s energy and water usage issues, the movement and management of a building’s waste can sometimes seem like an after thought in building design, especially in urban areas where space is a premium.

In many office buildings we work with that are located in the city, the daily logistics can be challenging, as described in  Waste Dive“In many buildings, especially older ones, it’s not uncommon for staff to manually stuff bags into elevators and lug them through maze-like hallways to tight loading docks, back alleys, or sidewalks. Then, this becomes the problem of collection crews which have to squeeze their trucks into those tight spaces or lift mounds of loose trash bags — because the property has no space for containers. This becomes additionally complicated when multiple streams, particularly organics, need to be stored separately ahead of time.”

Conquering Logistics – How to Work With The Space You Have

While these new guidelines will hopefully lead to better buildings in the future, many existing buildings will have to continue to deal with the logistics of managing their daily waste and recycling programs with the limited space they have.  It is challenging, but it can be done.

Here is one example of how we helped one client, a hotel in NYC, work with their limited space, and spark behavior changes that led to a healthy increase in their diversion rate.

Sign up for "3 to Zero (Waste)." Get 3 tips each month + insights.