The greater costs of larger landfills

Leachate

Toxic liquid — leachate — can drain from landfills and contaminate water supplies.

Nearly 70 local governments have canceled or suspended curbside recycling since 2017, when China put scrap import restrictions in place.[1] Less recycling means more waste. Some of that may be incinerated, and some (especially cans and bottles) will go to landfills.[2]

Larger landfills are more than a real estate expense. More than 60,000 untested chemicals pervade consumer products. When those products are expended, the discarded containers may include poisons and metals. At landfills, the rainwater that drains through that waste can become contaminated by it. That resulting landfill leachate carries toxins into groundwater, rivers, lakes, and reservoirs.

Water supplies are already seriously challenged in Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Georgia. Those states have had the highest per capita rate of the Safe Water Drinking Act violations.[3]

Landfills also pollute the air. They produce methane, a greenhouse gas 86 times more damaging than CO2. Beyond accelerating the climate crisis, landfills give off gases and odors that permeate communities. Even after a landfill is closed and sodded or paved-over, the surface is likely to crack. Time, weather, and wear eventually bring further leakage.[4]

One way to limit landfill concerns is quite familiar:  reduce, reuse, recycle. And… when contaminants are excluded from recycling, less waste goes to landfills.

News and Notes items accompany the longer articles found in ecoPreserve’s newsletter, Sharing Sustainability. Several issues of the newsletter can be previewed here.

[1] WasteDive.com — Recycling policies in 2020
[2] Vox.com — Cities killing or scaling back recycling programs
[3] ABCActionNews.com — States having the worst drinking water
[4] ToxicsAction.org — Toxins from waste

Alexa Stone
LEED AP, Sustainable Facility Professional, Envision Sustainability Professional - - Alexa has more than 25 years of experience in sustainable and Smart Cities development. Her strategic planning work has served local, state, and federal government, higher education, and private industry. Alexa founded ecoPreserve in 2009 as a team of 3 and has grown the company to over a dozen of the brightest sustainability and project management professionals in the industry.
Alexa Stone

@ecopreserve

We empower organizations to reduce environmental impact, improve efficiency, and improve quality of life.
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Facility Condition Report

The report is prepared in accordance with the recommendations of ASTM E2018-15, Standard Guide for Property Condition Assessments. This is a partial list of contents:

  • PHYSICAL CONDITION
    • General condition of the building, grounds, and appurtenances
    • Physical deficiencies, their significance, and suggested remedies
    • Photographs
    • Safety issues observed
  • INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPREAD POTENTIAL
  • OPPORTUNITIES
    • Potential operating efficiencies
    • Electricity and water use reductions
    • High-efficiency interior and exterior lighting
  • ORDER OF MAGNITUDE RENOVATION BUDGET
    • Recommended interior finishes
    • Construction costs

Risk Mitigation Improvements

  • IAQ
    • Airflow
    • Temperature and humidity
    • Vertical transportation (escalators and elevators)
  • HVAC EQUIPMENT
    • Settings
    • Conditions
    • Capability
    • Filtration
  • FLOORPLAN
    • Traffic patterns
  • FURNISHINGS
    • Placement for social distancing
    • Clear barriers where social distancing is not possible

Interior Elements

  • Foundation
  • Building frame and roof
  • Structural elements
    • Floors, walls, ceilings
    • Access and egress
    • Vertical transportation (escalators and elevators)
  • HVAC equipment and ductwork
  • Utilities
    • Electrical
    • Plumbing
  • Safety and fire protection

Grounds and Appurtenances

  • Façades or curtainwall
  • Topography
  • Storm water drainage
  • Paving, curbing, and parking
  • Flatwork
  • Landscaping
  • Recreational facilities
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AWARE of CDC and NIH guidelines

The Baseline Property Condition Assessments described in ASTM E2018-15 do not specify consideration of infectious disease transmission concerns. In a pandemic and post-pandemic environment, that inspection and documentation is essential.

Buildings open to the public must comply with local regulations. For best results and greatest public acceptance, any planning for building repairs and maintenance should not overlook current CDC and NIH guidelines.

Optionally, ecoPreserve's can assist with a comprehensive GBAC STAR™ Accreditation which extends beyond the building to include the goals, actions, equipment, and supplies needed to implement best practices for outbreak prevention, response, and recovery.

An OPTIMIZED Assessment

Certified Sustainability Consultants on a facility assessment team can discover ways to lower energy costs. Their understanding of HVAC equipment suitability and condition along with the specifics of LED lighting retrofits can provide offsets for needed investments in upgrades and replacements.

Knowledge of water systems can bring further savings while averting water waste. It can all be part of an assessment which might otherwise overlook water fixtures and irrigation schedules.

How should a facility be ASSESSED?

A thorough facility assessment finds the issues - on the surface or below - which have a potential negative impact on the building. That brings the facility to meet building codes. Beyond that, the assessment proactively addresses the deficiencies not covered by code.

The occupants of a building benefit as the assessment reveals conditions having a potential impact on their health or safety. The assessment must not overlook those conditions, nor fail to consider the frequency and duration of occupant visits.