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An Earth Day Sustainability Checklist for Green Buildings
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.
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?
- 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)?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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.
About the Author:
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.