909 Walnut Receives Sustainability Award

Walnut Building
Walnut Building

On Friday, December 11, 2015, 909 Walnut is being awarded the MARC Solid Waste Management District Outstanding Program Award for their sustainability efforts onsite.  The award is meant to recognize an innovative or outstanding waste reduction or recycling program or project.

With the help of Bridging The Gap, 909 Walnut has implemented an aggressive waste diversion program with the goal of being the first eco-minded multi-tenant residential building downtown and todivert as much waste as possible from the landfill.  All of the waste diversion programs at 909 Walnut provide an excellent example to their residents, commercial tenants and the surrounding community of how densely-populated, multi-tenant downtown space can still be environmentally-friendly.

909 Walnut is a 34-floor residential building in downtown Kansas City, MO, which hosts 161 residential units and approximately 40,000 square feet of commercial space.  929 Walnut hosts another 40,000 square feet, including a coffeehouse, and has been included in the waste diversion efforts of 909.

The General Manager, Alan Waterman, has implemented many waste diversion programs already at 909 and 929 Walnut and has plans to continue advancing green programs.  The following information is on the programs already implemented.

Reuse – The GM created a moving box reuse program and concierge service, once he realized exactly how much cardboard was going into their waste stream.  Approximately 50% of his residential units turn over every year, which caused thousands of moving boxes to go into their dumpsters.  Now, tenants can have boxes picked up from their apartment and taken to a dedicated reuse area, as well as retrieve boxes from this area when planning a move.  The GM estimates this allows for at least 25% of their cardboard to be reused before being recycled.

Recycling station at 909 Walnut
Recycling station at 909 Walnut

Recyclables – Resident collection bins were placed in a designated recycling area in the parking garage, in an easily-accessible area with proper signage.  All bins and signs were color coded for ease of recognition.  Due to the large amount of cardboard generated, separate collection carts were allocated for flattened boxes.  As needed, these community cardboard bins are emptied into dumpsters on the loading dock.  Residents were provided with written instructions and invited to a kick-off event hosted by the GM.  Instructional magnets were also added to the move-in welcome packets.  In the office space, the GM has removed all deskside trash bins, with only one small trash bin in the kitchen area.  This has generated a greater level of conscious participation.  The tenants are ecstatic to have recycling onsite and are using the collection bins properly.

Light Retro-fit – A total light retro-fit, converting all of their public space from fluorescent lights to LED lights, was just completed at 909 Walnut, 915 Walnut Garage and 929 Walnut.  The LED retrofit was building wide inside and out including the beautiful accent lights lighting the face of the building and towers at night with a total initial cost of nearly $200,000.  The project is estimated to save over $5,000 per month in energy.  Along with the light retrofit, the GM has also installed occupancy sensors, dimmers and photocells in public areas so that lights are only in use when needed.

Rooftop Garden – More than half of the usable rooftop space has been converted to a rooftop garden.  Not only does this help decrease stormwater run-off, it also helps curb the heat-island effect during the summer months.  The GM is interested in ways to increase this green space and incorporate more resident utilization and interaction.

Roof top garden
Roof top garden

909 Walnut began their waste diversion program in the spring of this year.  The program started with five trash dumpsters being emptied five days a week.  One dumpster was immediately converted to pre-sorted cardboard recycling, with another dumpster designated for cardboard after about three months of recycling.  Since the addition of the moving box reuse program and the co-mingled recycling program, they have reduced their waste production to three dumpsters being emptied three days a week.  This amounts to an approximate 36% reduction in waste produced onsite.

The General Manager, Alan Waterman, is currently planning the implementation of organics collection for composting and a dedicated electronics recycling collection area, with hopes of both programs starting towards the beginning of 2016.