April 28, 2022

How to Create a Construction Waste Management Plan for LEED

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by Lauren Richardson
Sustainability Associate at Green Badger
GBCI Pro Reviewer

LEED project teams can achieve 2 points for construction waste management with proper planning and communication. However, all projects must first develop and implement a construction and demolition waste management plan to achieve any points.

Having a good construction waste management plan is the first step towards earning the LEED MRc5 Construction Waste Management credit. First of all, it is required for the pre-requisite under MRp2 to have a construction waste management plan. You have to have a plan that identifies what waste is going to be generated for the project, and what means will be implemented to divert from landfills.

Reviewing the construction waste management plan template early will help the team know they are on course to hit the material streams required under the credit. Not thinking this through, and trying to throw it together at the end of construction can lead to not earning any points and leave everyone frustrated.

Construction Waste Management Plan Template for LEED v4.1

The best part is – you don’t need to start from scratch! Green Badger offers a free Construction Waste Management Plan Template that your team can work from. All the items you need to edit are marked in RED. Just update the information specific to your project, and you have a great starting point to work from. For more information on earning the LEED construction waste management credit, download our MRc5: Construction Waste Management eBook.

Note: should you use LEED v4.0 or LEED v4.1? You can opt into LEED v4.1 at any time. However, LEED v4 might actually give you a better chance at earning more points. Green Badger’s LEED software license allows you to toggle between the various options, and see where your project shakes out, along with tracking all of the other construction credits with ease.


Construction Waste Management – LEED Requirements Cheat Sheet

Construction Waste Management Cheat Sheet

Requirements for LEED v4 DB+C Projects

Option 1. Diversion (1-2 points)

Path 1. Divert 50% and three material streams (1 point)

Path 2. Divert 75% and four material streams (2 points)

Option 2. reduction of total waste material (2 points)

Do not generate more than 2.5 pounds of construction waste per square foot (12.2 kilograms of waste per square meter) of the building’s floor area.

Requirements for LEED v4.1 DB+C Projects

Option 1. Diversion (1 point)

Divert at least 50% of the total construction and demolition materials from landfills and incineration facilities.

Option 2. Waste Prevention (1-2 points)

Path 1. Generate less than 15 lbs./ft2 (75 kg/m2) (1 point)

Path 2. Generate less than 10 lbs./ft2 (50 kg/m2) (2 points)

What makes earning points a challenge:

Challenges abound. Can project teams really hit the waste reduction goals? If your project has a ton of demolition it will make earning more than 1 point a challenge. For this reason, we’re providing you guidance for both LEED v4 and v4.1 because if your project hasn’t registered specifically under v4.1 then you have the option to choose. This might be one of the instances where staying with LEED v4 gives you a better chance at earning more points.

  • Lots of demolition
  • Lack of markets for recycled materials (finding enough material streams to earn the credit)
  • Lack of haulers/recyclers in your area
  • Lack of space on site for dumpsters (for creative dumpster arranging, see below):
construction dumpster

Requirements for MRc5 for LEED v4.1

Develop and implement a construction and demolition waste management plan and achieve points through waste prevention and/or diversion. All projects must develop and implement a construction and demolition waste management plan and include:

WHO?

  • Who will you use for your hauler?
  • Who will do regular inspections of containers/staging areas
  • Who will remove contaminants?

HOW?

  • How can your team reduce waste through design choices and during construction?
  • What materials can be recycled (waste streams)?
  • What will be the expected diversion rates for each material?
  • How will they be recycled? Commingled or separate bins?

Examples of Targeted Materials and Estimated Percentages:

  1. Concrete – 40%
  2. Metals – 15%
  3. Wood – 10%
  4. Masonry – 10%
  5. Gypsum Board – 10%
  6. Cardboard – 5%

Other Material Categories:

  • Asphalt
  • Asphalt shingles
  • Drywall
  • CMU and Brick
  • Land clearing debris (trees, stumps)
  • Wood framing materials
  • Field office waste  

How will you communicate the plan?

  • When will you explain the recycling method to subs?
  • Will there be a tour of the recycling areas?
  • How will subs make sure their crews comply?
  • In which languages will the containers be labeled?
  • Where will acceptable/unacceptable materials be posted and in what languages?

WHERE?

  • Where will the hauler take the materials?
  • What happens to materials destined to be recycled once they leave your site?

WHAT?

  • What can your hauler provide, such as a letter outlining how they divert waste and where it goes, to ensure these materials won’t end up in landfill?
  • What reports will you use for disposal and diversion rates?
waste hauler

Collaborating with your Waste Haulers to Develop and Effective Construction Waste Management Plan

Questions to ask your waste hauler(s):

  1. How does their process work?
  2. What documents or certification can they offer to show they separate products?
    1. Commingled recycling facilities must be able to provide project-specific diversion rates or an average diversion rate for the facility that is regulated by the local or state authority. 
    2. Visual inspection is not an option 
  3. Are haulers going to help with the diversion rate or is that all on the project team?
  4. How are they managing materials on site?
  5. Where are they taking materials after they leave your site? 
  6. How are materials sorted, tracked, and reported?

RCI Certified Facilities

The Recycling Certification Institute ensures that facilities certified with them offer transparent and accurate recycling reports. Click here for a list of RCI certified facilities.

Special Notes to consider when creating your Construction Waste Management Plan:

  • If your hauler doesn’t have 3rd party certification, commingled is counted as landfill.
  • States like New York, where hauler information is published, can count commingled as one waste stream.
  • Materials sent out as commingled must use the facility’s average recycling rate
  • Exclude excavated soil and land-clearing debris.
  • Land-clearing debris materials are natural (e.g., rock, soil, vegetation) and should be diverted from the landfill if possible.
  • Include materials destined for alternative daily cover (ADC) in the calculations as waste, not diversion
  • Separate and store hazardous materials in a specific area onsite and dispose per local regulations.
Construction, Demolition, and Renovation Waste Management

Construction, Demolition, and Renovation Waste Management

If you are involved with building construction, demolition, or renovation, your company creates
construction and demolition (C&D) debris. Most C&D debris is nonhazardous and is not regulated by EPA. Under RCRA, however, if you generate hazardous waste you are required to follow certain procedures when generating, storing, transporting, or disposing of it. In addition, many states have specific definitions of C&D debris that effectively determine what materials are allowed to be disposed of in nonhazardous waste landfills, C&D landfills, or incinerators. Even if federal or state regulations do not apply to your business, you should make efforts to keep the hazardous components of the wastes you generate out of landfills to conserve natural resources and protect human health and the environment. Follow the suggestions outlined here for ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle your waste as specified by the EPA.

Waste Stream

Concrete
Asphalt
Scrap metal
Wood products
Masonry products
Cardboard
Carpet tiles
ACT tiles
Drywall
Aluminum
Plastic
Paper

Examples of Processing, depending on the market in your area

Recycled (int products for buildings and roads)
Reprocessed into new asphalt
Recycled
Recycled into mulch or salvaged
Manufacturer take-back for reuse or recycling
Recycled into new cardboard containers
Manufacturer take-back for recycling
Manufacturer take-back for recycling
Recycled into soil amendment product
Recycled into new products 
Recycled into new products 
Recycled into new products 

REDUCE

Successful projects that truly grasp the intent of the credit will build waste reduction into the design. Educate site managers and project managers on waste reduction

REUSE

Find ways of reusing materials (salvaged wood, moving furniture from one location to another) also achieves Sourcing of Raw Materials Credits and talk to your local haulers about recycling options/markets.

RECYLE

Consider alignment with other construction companies, demolition contractors, recyclers to achieve markets (see the Resources section of the EPA’s eBook)  Tommy: does USGBC help GCs coordinate to create markets for waste? As the industry progresses, materials like wood and plant waste may become valuable biofuel. Stay educated on markets and options.

RECOVER

Use the take-back programs made available by carpet and ACT tile companies.  Companies will have brochures on their websites outlining how to package and return materials. This will achieve Sourcing of Raw Materials Credit

LANDFILL

This hardly needs to be stated, but avoid sending materials to landfill as much as possible!

Construction waste management plan template for LEED v4 Projects

Example Construction Waste Management Plan Template Information:

Waste Management Goals: This project will recycle or salvage or divert 50 OR 75% by (weight or volume) of the total construction and demolition waste generated on-site.

  • Meet LEED Requirements for the project: Divert materials from at least five waste or material streams. Approximate a percentage of the overall project waste that these materials represent.

Targeted Materials: The following waste streams are targeted for diversion, along with the approximate percent that each material comprises of the total waste stream (must be at least 5 different waste or material streams).

  1. Concrete – 40%
  2. Metals – 15%
  3. Wood – 10%
  4. Masonry – 10%
  5. Gypsum Board – 10%
  6. Cardboard – 5%

The best part is – you don’t need to start from scratch! Green Badger offers a free Construction Waste Management Plan Template that your team can work from. All the items you need to edit are marked in RED. Just update the information specific to your project, and you have a great starting point to work from. For more information on earning the LEED construction waste management credit, download our MRc5: Construction Waste Management eBook.

Construction Waste Management Plan Template for LEED v4.1
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