6 Ways To Manage And Reduce Waste In Your Commercial Building

Posted by on Jan 22, 2020 in Blog, environmental industry, environmental jobs, sustainable business, sustainable environment | 0 comments

6 Ways To Manage And Reduce Waste In Your Commercial Building

Successful businesses continually seek ways to cut costs and improve operational efficiencies. Organizations interested in better controlling and reducing building costs can take many steps to build a successful and sustainable business. 

Commercial buildings – office parks, retail, hotels, malls, medical centers, warehouses, etc. – generate significant amounts of waste. What strategies can be used to combat waste? 

Property or commercial building managers can contact organizations like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to offer exceptional tips and tools for recycling and waste management. Leverage available resources, understand your options, then implement measures suitable for your organization. 

While big results can’t be achieved overnight, smaller “wins” on the waste-reduction process front will soon add up. Read on for some suggestions to bring waste reduction efforts to your commercial building.

1. Form a Team 

Unite tenants, departments, facility managers, and other interested building occupants to help educate them about your goals and objectives, then in designing and implementing a suitable program. 

Involving others as stakeholders helps them not only understand what you’re trying to achieve but also helps get them fully engaged in the overall process. Having designated teams in charge of keeping your waste under control will give ownership to the project and allow everyone to be more successful. 

2. Reduce Waste: Recycle What You Can

More and more commercial building owners and managers are finding a great (and super easy!) way to begin is to reduce waste through recycling.

Recycling programs can help nip waste at its very source. Recycling is a critical waste reduction method that’s often at the core of a building’s waste-reduction machine. Recycling whatever you can saves on landfill space and diverts waste that needs disposal at a landfill, which has a negative environmental effect. 

Let recycling become a reflexive habit in your commercial buildings. Set up collection bins on each floor and in centrally located areas, clearly marked, for aluminum/steel cans, plastics, and paper. And set up a building collection area for cardboard recycling. 

Recycling is among the most popular ways to eliminate waste – at residences and in commercial buildings – since it’s so simple to do. You might want to supplement your program with secure recycling (shredding) containers for proprietary tenant materials. 

Reducing waste is an increasingly important part of minimizing a negative impact on our precious environment. Plus, recycling is easy to measure so success can be tracked year over year. Evaluating the recyclables generated from your building’s waste and recycling program helps measure your success over time.

Pro tip: Local governments typically offer free site visits and commercial-building audits to make suggestions, let you know the range of services available to you, and connect you with local haulers. They can further help you tailor a program to your building’s needs.

3. Reuse – Over and Over Again

Other ways to reduce waste include encouraging your tenants to print on both sides of the paper, use washable mugs and cups instead of single-use or throwaway Styrofoam cups for their morning coffee, and use washable dishes and cutlery. Install drinking fountains with an integrated water-filling station feature for reusable water bottles.

Even commercial building tenants end up with stuff they no longer need. Offer periodic opportunities for swaps where tenants can set out gently used but unwanted office supplies/furniture for trade. Many surplus things still have lots of life left in them. 

Arranging swaps helps older items get used a while longer, keeping them out of the waste stream. Plus, after the swap ends, it becomes a wonderful occasion to donate any leftover items to schools or charitable organizations, allowing items to be reused by another group is beneficial to the Earth. 

4. Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC)

Many energy suppliers offer free, onsite energy audits – consider requesting one. Many waste-reduction tactics don’t require a significant investment to measurably reduce waste. For instance, programmable thermostats can adjust heating, cooling, and lighting levels on evenings and weekends to save costs. 

What’s more, using ENERGY STAR-certified furnaces, boilers, and air conditioners reduces energy waste. Another simple-yet-effective tactic is to make sure your HVAC technician regularly changes your building’s filters since dirty filters can reduce energy levels an estimated 5% to 10%.

5. Watch Your Water, Indoors and Out

As significant water users, commercial buildings have tremendous potential for operational cost savings when facility managers take steps to make water a focal point. Aim to conserve water by taking advantage of water-savings opportunities in your property.

Start by giving your building’s faucets a regular “health check.” That’s important because even a small faucet or drinking fountain leak can end up wasting thousands of gallons of water. Catching a leak early can save you money as well as protecting one of the Earth’s most valuable resources. 

Eco- or budget-conscious facility professionals should routinely check and repair leaks to ensure proper operations. That way, your property doesn’t unintentionally send water and money down the drain.

Install low-flow technology faucets and toilets and energy-efficient fixtures like water fountains and flushing urinals to further help reduce your building’s water waste. Look for plumbing products sporting the “WaterSense” label. 

These are certified to use less water while performing as well or better than regular plumbing products. Outfitting your commercial building with this technology can effectively reduce water consumption (and costs!) across all building areas. In addition to the cost of the water, you could see a decrease in energy bills due to the associated cost of heating the water.

Don’t forget to work towards reducing your building’s outdoor water use too. Set lawn irrigation systems on timers to work during more efficient times, such as overnight. Ask your facilities team to routinely check the positioning of the sprinkler heads so they don’t inadvertently water the sidewalk or pavement. 

If your system doesn’t have rain sensors, be sure to turn sprinklers off when it rains (very easy to do with remote-controlled irrigation systems) to avoid unnecessary consumption of this precious natural resource. Another tip is to sweep, instead of hose off, sidewalks and patios. 

6. Green Buildings

Solar panels and environmentally friendly building materials and lighting can not only help commercial buildings “go green,” but they can also reduce energy and other operational costs for commercial properties of all types and sizes. 

Another easy-to-implement idea: Using motion-activated light switches in conference rooms and similar areas ensures power only goes to lights that are needed.


Once you get formal waste management and reduction programs in place, consistency is the key. Green your commercial property. Then keep it up. Continually collaborate with all stakeholders, measure progress, and track cost savings – you’ll soon be on your way to decreasing your property’s environmental footprint. 

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