An Earth Day Sustainability Checklist for Green Buildings

04/22/2020 | By Nancy Zavada

As the world marks 50 years of celebrating Earth Day, old challenges remain, but so do vast opportunities for the future.

Commercial buildings have a unique opportunity to contribute. Take a moment to assess how your building measures up with this checklist.

Green Building

Certification and Policies

  • Has your building achieved environmental certifications, such as ISO 14001, ENERGY STAR, LEED, BOMA 360 or other third-party verified programs?
  • Does your building have a written sustainability policy, including accessibility provisions?

[Related: 6 Ideas to Create Net-Positive, Ultra-Green Museums]

Energy

  • Does your facility turn off lights and HVAC in rooms when not in use, either manually or through scheduling?
  • Do you adjust HVAC and lighting to seasonally appropriate levels and schedules?
  • Does your building use energy efficient lighting in meeting rooms, foyers and halls?
  • Have you designated and enforced “no idling zones” at the key access points?
  • Do you conduct audits of energy use to measure and improve efficiency?
  • Do you offer electric hand dryers in public washrooms?
  • Does your building purchase green or renewable energy (solar, wind, tidal)?

Water

  • Do you use low-flow toilets and/or dual flush toilets in restrooms?
  • Are there sensors on your faucets, taps and urinals?
  • Does your building have a system for rainwater and greywater re-utilization?
  • Do you sweep (and not spray) parking lots, sidewalks and driveways when cleaning?
  • Do you monitor water use with meters, and can you provide data if requested?

Waste

  • Do you have a recycling program to recycle glass, aluminum, plastic, paper, grease and electronic waste?
  • Do you provide collection bins, facilities, staffing and training necessary to recycle all glass containers, aluminum and steel cans, plastic bottles, pallets, paper (newspaper, cardboard and other office paper) and e-waste?
  • Does your building have a system for composting?
  • Do you have a policy to reduce and reuse where possible and appropriate?
  • Is your building’s staff trained to implement environmental policies and practices in regard to minimizing waste?
  • Do you have a donation program for materials that are not used?

[Related: 4 Ways Your Roof Can Earn LEED Certification Credits]

Environmental Purchases

  • Do you have a written policy to purchase sustainable options for all items procured within your operations?
  • Have you purchased bathroom paper products that include recycled content of at least 35%?
  • Do you purchase environmentally responsible cleaning products for carpet, floors, kitchens and bathrooms?
  • Do you purchase environmentally responsible paints that have low VOC emissions and dispose of this product responsibly?
  • Do you use humane and environmentally responsible options for pest control?
  • Do you request that vendors have environmentally responsible practices?

While this list covers environmental practices, promoting labor practices that guarantee fair and equitable treatment of staff in a safe work environment should also be taken into consideration.

If your building ticks all the boxes, congratulations! If not, this is an excellent time to set forth a plan to use the planet’s resources wisely following the golden anniversary of Earth Day.

Read next: 4 Convention Centers Making Strides in Sustainability

About the Author:

Nancy ZavadaNancy Zavada
President of MeetGreen 

Nancy is a leader and entrepreneur in the events industry focusing on sustainable business practices. She founded MeetGreen in 1994 after beginning her career as a corporate health care planner in 1978.


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