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Earn LEED credits for making your facility zero waste

Published on: 
15 Sep 2016
Sara Cederberg

At USGBC, we’ve been excited to watch more and more companies take on zero waste goals for their campuses and facilities over the past few years. Resource efficiency and designing out waste are difficult concepts to write LEED credits around. Recycling continues to be a challenge for many municipalities in the U.S. and abroad. We’re trying to make that easier and provide more incentive to eliminate waste from the start—and when that’s not possible, to make sure it re-enters materials streams in the most efficient way possible.

On July 1, 2016, USGBC issued a LEED Interpretation allowing documentation for a facility certified by the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council (USZWBC) to stand in for several LEED for Building Operations and Maintenance (LEED O+M) prerequisites and credits. Our aim is to reduce the burden for buildings pursuing both certifications.

Now, if a building has earned USZWBC Zero Waste Facility certification and the scope of the project (i.e., the project boundary) is the same as a project pursuing LEED O+M certification, the USZWBC certification can be used to document the following LEED credits, provided the corresponding USZWBC credit is earned. A scorecard for the USZWBC Zero Waste Facility Certification must be provided to demonstrate specific credit achievement.

LEED 2009 for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance

  • MR prerequisite 2: Solid Waste Management Policy; USZWBC includes a mandatory zero waste policy
  • MR credit 6: Solid Waste Management–Waste Stream Audit; Zero Waste Analysis, Credit 1
  • MR credit 7: Solid Waste Management–Ongoing Consumables; both Diversion, Credit 1 and Hazardous Waste Prevention, Credit 5
  • Innovation in Operations–Credit 1 for Exemplary Performance if at least 95 percent diversion is achieved; Diversion Credits 1 and 2


  • MR prerequisite: Ongoing Purchasing and Waste Policy (waste policy portion only); USZWBC includes a mandatory zero waste policy
  • MR credit: Solid Waste Management–Ongoing; both Diversion, Credit 1 and Hazardous Waste Prevention, Credit 5
  • Innovation credit for Exemplary Performance if at least 95 percent diversion is achieved; Diversion Credits 1 and 2

“This LEED Interpretation meets one of our major goals in creating the Zero Waste Facility Certification, which is to leverage existing certification guidelines to enhance not duplicate business practices,” stated Stephanie Barger, USZWBC Founder and Executive Director. “Our organization can provide the expertise to drive policies and practices in creating a zero waste economy so all companies can benefit from better markets, services and performance measures.”

USGBC is looking forward to additional opportunities to align our standards and continue to support businesses that are doing their best to eliminate waste.

Launched in spring 2012 and headquartered in Corona Del Mar, California, USZWBC’s mission is to educate, inform and document the performance of zero waste businesses using scientific methods to help them and their communities become more healthy and sustainable. The Zero Waste Business Associate Facility Scorecard Training will be offered at Greenbuild 2016 on Monday, Oct. 3.