US Office Co-Hosts Zero Waste Event

29th June 2017

Following the opening of our New York office earlier this summer, we hosted our first US-based event ‘Design Guidelines for Zero Waste’ on 6th June 2017 in partnership with AIA New York (The American Institute of Architects).

Public and private sector representatives were invited by New York CEO Sarah Edwards and the AIA to gather at the Centre for Architecture to hear four industry points of view on the future of recycling and transitioning to a Zero Waste industry in Construction and Development (C&D) before an open discussion.

Chaired by Cole Rosengren Reporter from US-based media outlet Waste Dive the programme started with Naomi Cooper from a C&D materials recycling facility operator, Cooper Tank Recycling. Naomi kicked off presentations by detailing what materials they recycle at their new facility (with an ambition of 95% landfill diversion) and which – of the many – become un-usable if they are mixed on site. Naomi finished by calling on developers and architects to specify construction site recycling rates, and also stressed the need for more local end markets – her clients are the businesses with an appetite for secondary material.

Amanda Kaminsky from Building Product Ecosystems (BPE), a company that focuses on health impacts of materials used in construction then took to the stage to discuss some of the alternative materials they create to replace existing ones that have harmful side-effects – including fly ash and Wallboard. Amanda recommends central re-usable material banks on site – or offsite to support smaller businesses.

Next up, Illana Judah from FXFOWLE Architects presented case studies that proved budget and availability were always the main consideration for her clients. Illana used the Audubon Society as an example of best practice, a project where all parties involved committed to achieving the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum Certification from the outset.

Eunomia Founder Dominic Hogg rounded off presentations by covering the need for quality data on C&D material, environmental fiscal reform, and a higher value to be placed on the role natural capital in the built environment – stressing that open spaces are key for health and happiness. The concept of ‘product passports’ was also put forward, a system that allows the construction industry to trace the origin and quality of secondary materials purchased.

Dominic said:

“The concept of the product passport is really important, especially if you are setting out to design for reuse, the second life of a building, and you want to know what the materials are that you’re going to be handling when you start to deconstruct and start to pull things apart.”

Event chair Cole Rosengren added in his article ‘3 ways to boost the circular economy in NYC’s construction industry’ reporting on the event:

“Cataloguing each piece of the building by composition and source enhances future reuse opportunities, while also recognizing the inherent value of the material itself. By expanding this idea and others like it, both the construction and the recycling industries can begin viewing their jobs in a much different way. Rather than getting rid of C&D material as quickly as possible to make way for new material — which may or may not include recycled and salvaged content — that material could be carefully moved around over the course of decades.”

Sarah Edwards, Eunomic Inc. CEO who leads the New York office said:

“This was a great opportunity for C&D industry stakeholders to share ideas and examples of best practice. I would like to say thank you again to everyone who took part and we look forward to supporting C&D businesses as they transition to becoming a zero waste industry.”