By Todd Isherwood LEED AP, Co-Chair of Greening Greenbuild 2017

Have you ever wondered where your trash ends up? I live in Downtown Boston, and twice-weekly a garbage truck comes through my North End neighborhood and picks up my trash. It magically disappears, but where does it go? Do you know where your trash goes? If you did know, would it change your behavior for how you handle your waste and recycling? What are the impacts on the environment – both inside and outside our cities?

Greenbuild’s Greening Committee wants to know the answers to these questions. Each year, Greenbuild challenges itself to walk the talk of sustainability. This year’s attendance goal of 30,000 means a lot of trash at our convention center in Boston, Massachusetts. How much trash will you put on the pile at Greenbuild 2017? USGBC plans to find out while also engaging student volunteers to provide program information, or “talking trash,” at each waste and recycling station on the convention trade show floor.

So, what kind of trash talk will be happening? In the months leading up to and at Greenbuild, our committee will be talking about WasteWise, a program developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. WasteWise helps organizations reduce their impact on global climate change through waste reduction. WasteWise also gives you a guide to tracking waste in EnergyStar Portfolio Manager. The WasteWise program will be the foundation for “talking trash” points at Greenbuild 2017.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is targeting a 30% reduction of trash by 2020 and 80% reduction by 2050 from a 2008 baseline. As of 2015, Massachusetts saw a 16% reduction. Like many other states across the U.S., Massachusetts is challenged with what do with its trash. The Commonwealth sends its waste to municipal landfills, incineration stations, and other states via waste-by-rail. On the bright side, recycling has been a tremendous success in the Commonwealth.  Another great initiative is “waste to energy” programs. Expect to learn more about the Commonwealth’s waste and recycling programs from Greenbuild 2017’s “talking trash” initiative.

The City of Boston will play a critical role in the Commonwealth’s waste reduction goals. Greenovate is “Mayor Walsh’s initiative to get all Bostonians involved in eliminating pollution…” My first involvement with Greenovate was acting as the energy efficiency and renewable energy manager for the City of Boston. Waste diversion strategies live within Greenovate’s Climate Action Plan. The City of Boston’s waste and recycling programs will be “talking trash” points at Greenbuild 2017.

What is Greenbuild 2017’s plan for waste diversion and how can you participate? USGBC has a goal of moving Greenbuild towards a Zero Waste Event. In 2015, Greenbuild had an 84% waste diversion rate. This reached 90% in LA last year. How can we eliminate the last 10%? The Greening Committee believes the answers are education, innovation, and the will to do good for future generations. We’ll provide the education, you provide the innovation, and we will collaborate towards a waste-free future.

Go ahead, talk some trash on @USGBCMA @USGBC @ToddIsherwood

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