Don’t Dump, Recycle!

Today, society realizes that we all must live an Dart earth-friendly lifestyle in order to preserve the earth’s precious natural resources for future generations. Some lawmakers have tried to outright ban foam in New York, but their decision was overturned in support of recycling. Public spaces have garbage cans placed strategically throughout high traffic areas – yet it’s better to hang on to some refuse for recycling, as opposing to dumping your garbage in a trash bin. Here is a list of items that are very easily recycled, using separation bins in the office, at home or at community recycling stations:

  • Metals such as aluminum, steel or tin cans when re-purposed by mills, takes seventy-five percent less energy to manufacture products than raw metals.
  • Paper mixes including shredded documents, newspapers and magazines, and bills and office paper are easy to recycle. In fact, sixty-three percent of paper used in 2013 was recovered and recycled.
  • EPS or polystyrene product recycling is fast becoming the next great opportunity for eco-friendly living. These foam products are used all around us in daily life. Starting school, community or workplace recycling programs for foam products is becoming more widespread.
  • Cardboard recycling centers are located in many major cities and some will pay cash depending on the amount of cardboard.
  • Composting your backyard, which includes leaves, tree trimmings and grass clippings, along with food scraps is a great way to attempt zero waste at home.
  • Glass and Plastic have long been a part of household and community recycling programs. Be familiar with the waste management provider in your neighborhood to find out if there are any plastics they don’t accept.
  • Household items such as tires, light bulbs, furniture, computers, ink cartridges and toner, batteries and electronic equipment.

Some products are incorrectly thought to be un-recyclable, such as polystyrene foam (EPS), which is used in many of our daily consumer activities such as hot/cold food take-out containers, packing peanuts, molded protective packaging and disposable cutlery. The EPS industry is taking the initiative to set up actionable guidelines and procedures in establishing recycling centers for these products.

Large cities such as San Diego, California, Portland, Oregon and Los Angeles are leading the way by diverting discarded products from landfills and into re-cycled or re-purposed products; the numbers are impressive with up to seventy to eighty percent of their communities’ dry waste products being recycled.

This year, commit to “Don’t Dump, Recycle!” it’s a great way to get family involved with protecting our environment. If you don’t know where a recycling center is near you, check-out this website to help you find one in your vicinity.

DC Embassy “Goes Green” with LEED Gold Status

Achieving the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) council certification for any structure requires a lot of innovation, dedication and patience. It is a symbol of environmental stewardship, and speaks to leadership’s dedication to making the building safer for the employees who work there. The UAE Embassy in Washington, DC has earned LEED Gold Status by thoughtfully achieving these high standards.

There are many steps to achieving LEED Gold Status, which is a painstaking process that requires the accumulation of points, which add up to achieve a ranking of Gold or other levels. UAE ambassador, Yousef Al Otaiba, commended the efforts made by Masdar Abu Dhabis and Dr. Nawal Al-Hosany, the Director of Sustainability.

One of the benchmarks for earning LEED Gold Status is to reduce a structure’s carbon footprint. For the UAE Embassy, this meant retrofitting it with machinery that uses less energy. A white roof was installed to reflect light rather than absorbing it, helping to keep the temperature inside the building steady with less energy. The entire building was painted in a lighter color, and sun shades were installed to reduce the amount of heat absorption.

All of these efforts in turn lead to reduced reliance on electricity to cool or heat the building. In fact, the changes have reduced the structure’s overall electric consumption by 40 percent. This means that some 400 tons of CO2 are saved from entering the atmosphere each year.

Water use is also a part of LEED certification, so the UAE building installed a solar system to heat water. The embassy now uses 41 percent less water than the standards set forth by the 1992 EPAct.

One of the environmental drawbacks to new construction or retrofitting is that a lot of waste is produced, some of it potentially hazardous. The UAE team was able to harvest 75 percent of construction wastes for either recycling or other uses, helping to free up local landfills.

All of this hard work netted the UAE Embassy the LEED Gold status, but also saves on operating costs in the long run due to lower energy needs. Employees also benefit by enjoying a cleaner, safer structure to work in each day.

Currently, the UAE Embassy is the only embassy in the world that has achieved LEED Gold Status. One embassy, the Finnish Embassy in Washington, has achieved LEED Platinum certification. Platinum is the top certification possible, one level above gold.