SPS+ Architects is a full-service architecture firm based in Arizona that innovatively works towards creating purposeful, inclusive, and adaptable design solutions for its clients. The company’s forward-thinking approach to collaborating with its clients develops lasting relationships that ultimately bring Arizona communities together. SPS+ Architects values social responsibility and environmental consciousness, such as providing LEED and solar services, in addition to creating a Green Initiative Policy.
In Fall 2021, the firm brought in our team at GreenLight Solutions to expand its commitment to sustainability to its office space. SPS+ Architects wanted to explore how to improve its waste management practices in its day-to-day office operations. To start the project off right, our team needed to establish a baseline of the firm’s existing waste production. To do this, our team conducted a 3-day office waste audit as well as curated an employee questionnaire.
During the waste audit process, Margareta Hilgendorf and Carolina Haros of SPS+ worked with the GreenLight Solutions team to organize and weigh discarded materials, both in the recyclable and landfill bins. As we were completing the waste audit we were presented with challenges. The outdoor dumpsters had no scheduled pick-up time and were publicly accessible. Despite the challenges that were presented in our audit, we were able to study both indoor and outdoor trash productions for the company.
The waste audit informed us that SPS + Architects has the potential to shift 73% of its waste stream to be recycled or composted! A majority of the waste created in the office was paper and plastic, in addition to food waste. With the proper allocation of resources, SPS+ can reduce their waste significantly.
Through our employee questionnaire, we were able to reach 61% of employees in the Scottsdale location. Our five questions guided our recommendations as we learned the work habits of the employees at the Scottsdale facility.
The results of our waste audit and questionnaire helped us develop recommendations for the SPS+ waste management system. Our first set of recommendations was to partner with companies to address their hard-to-recycle waste. This includes Terracycle, a nationwide company that recycles alternative materials, and Recycled City, a composting company. Our second set of recommendations is zero-waste alternative practices. We encourage the firm to prioritize reuse and give recommendations for how to replace various disposable materials with reusable materials. For example, a significant amount of the waste recorded was plastic water bottles, which we recommend should be switched out for company-branded reusable water bottles. Our last set of recommendations was to provide educational materials and signage for the SPS+ offices. We created SPS+ branded recycling and composting infographics, posters, and presentations to be utilized at all their office locations.
When our team first started this project, we had a vision that SPS + Architects had the tools, strategies, and education to operate a waste-conscious workplace culture and actively reduce its waste production. Therefore, our mission was to conduct a waste audit and employee interviews, analyze the workplace operations and culture, and provide recommendations – all in under three months. Not only did we accomplish our mission and fulfill our vision, SPS+ Architects is moving forward with our recommendations and plans to continue its sustainability journey in 2022 and beyond.
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