Challenge Accepted: HOK’s New York Studio Participates in Waste Reduction Competition
The Center for Architecture launched the Zero Waste Challenge to encourage architects, designers and engineers to implement more impactful waste reduction measures in their own offices.
To support New York City’s goal of sending zero waste to landfills by 2030, the Zero Waste Challenge took place from July to September and ramped up recycling and composting efforts at 25 different architecture, design and engineering firms. The goal of the friendly competition was to reach a 75 percent diversion rate.
HOK’s New York studio participated in the challenge and developed custom graphics with specific instructions for recycling, composting and discarding waste. The firm also removed people’s individual garbage bins from workstations to encourage staff to sort items correctly.
“It was tough to get started, especially when we took away people’s trash bins,” says Sheryl Owen, sustainability design professional at HOK. “After introducing a variety of strategies to educate and engage employees, we started to see results. This was a great way to kick-start composting in our office and reinvigorate our recycling efforts. We plan to keep it up even though the Zero Waste Challenge is officially over.”
At the end of every work day, volunteers in HOK’s New York office measured the total amount of waste (metals, glass, plastic, paper, compost and trash) accumulated by more than 250 employees across two separate floors.
Over the course of the three-month challenge, the studio collected more than 1,780 pounds of compost. Compared to other participating firms, HOK achieved the highest increase in diversion rate from start to finish (56 percent) and attained the second-largest total waste reduction.