Green Standards Gives a Second Life to Office Furnishings | Kanebridge News
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Green Standards Gives a Second Life to Office Furnishings

By Rob Csernyik
Fri, Jul 28, 2023 8:48amGrey Clock 4 min

When a company office needs a refresh, surplus items typically follow a straight line journey: out the door toward the landfill. Yet, much of this furniture and equipment could have a second life instead of being junked.

“It’s so critical with all the churn that’s happening at this moment in workplaces that we are thinking in a circular way about that journey,” says Green Standards CEO Trevor Langdon.

That’s where the Toronto-based global workplace decommissioning firm comes in. Green Standards acts as a project manager when companies upgrade or downsize, helping firms coordinate the process and the donation, sale, and disposal of items they no longer need.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports about 80% of furnishings end up in landfills, but Green Standards has diverted 98.6% of workplace goods away from landfills for its projects.

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Green Standards has always had a limited audience of early adopters, but Langdon, 37, says its approach is now considered the minimum standard.

“Tastes and attitudes have changed,” he says. Employees expect companies to follow through on their promises to be good corporate citizens, and not to abandon those standards on moving day.

Langdon witnessed these shifts firsthand during the past 11 years as he rose from a project coordinator position seeking charity partners for Green Standards to the CEO office. There’s been an acceleration in business since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, not only because of its massive impact on corporate real estate portfolios but because it sped up discussions of the impact of climate change, he says. Now more companies than ever before, including more than 25% of Fortune 100 firms, are seeking his company’s services.

THE SERVICE

“We take on the scoping of the project,” Langdon says, which includes bidding for and managing the logistics companies that take everything down and vacate the spaces.

Green Standards also manages the disposition strategy and tracks the outcome for each item. “We take an inventory and then figure out what’s going to go where,” Langdon says. The value of each item is determined by considering its age, quality, and reuse potential.

The firm uses a process it calls “sustainable decommissioning” to determine the best solution for items. This includes recycling (with specialized recyclers offering preferred rates), selling (through a network of furniture brokers and buyers), or donating items. One of several proprietary elements of the process is the network of over 20,000 nonprofits that have opted in to receive furniture donations from Green Standards clients.

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Though Green Standards does 95% of its business in North America, it’s recently started taking on international projects and is now active in 35 countries.

THE PRICE

“On the whole, we’re pretty cost-competitive with the conventional approach of sending everything to the dump,” Langdon says. Regardless of how companies dispose of items when they downsize or move offices, removing thousands of pieces of furniture from buildings comes with costs.

“Nobody volunteers their time to come do that,” says Langdon. “Often in a typical project, US$1 to US$2 a square foot is pretty standard.”

The type of office building and its geographical location often dictates hard costs like labor. He notes that higher-than-average local labor costs or elements that complicate removing goods like minimal freight elevators or the need to work after hours so as not to disturb neighbouring companies can increase costs to US$3-US$4 per square foot.

The residual value of office items dictates the offsets. Though some projects are cost neutral for clients, others with newer, high-quality furniture can be profitable. Because companies update their offices more frequently today than in the past, furnishings can often be less than 10 years old, Langdon says.

WHAT’S THE GOOD

Besides diverting goods from landfill, Green Standards has helped corporations make nearly US$40 million worth of in-kind donations to nonprofits. “It’s not a little bit here or there,” Langdon says. The donations enable these organisations to put money toward their missions and programming, rather than using it to purchase furniture and other items.

Green Standards prepares a report for each company at the end of the process detailing the disposition strategies and impact created. Some clients integrate this information into their annual sustainability reports, he says. These figures help show the ripple effect of Green Standards’ approach.

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When decommissioning multiple corporate campuses across Michigan for automotive giant General Motors, Green Standards kept “7,000-plus tons of surplus furniture from landfill while making in-kind donations of more than US$1,000,000 to 102 non-profits,” according to a Green Standards case study. By recycling items instead of taking them to landfill, the company estimates General Motors avoided creating more than 30,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

Meanwhile, in projects completed for Menlo Park, Calif.-headquartered software company Genesys, nearly 40% of items were donated to 25 nonprofits. In Genesys projects Green Standards oversaw in the Netherlands, Poland, and the U.K., the firm reached 100% landfill diversion rates.

WHAT’S NEXT

Aside from increasing its global presence, Langdon is looking at other areas of expansion. These include working with other types of companies, such as bank branches or clinical health offices. There are even possibilities, he says, to leverage the company’s technology to help clients track internal reuse of resources like furniture to re-deploy and extend lifecycles. Clients are “looking to us to help with that, which is really exciting,” he says.

The company is also having conversations with original equipment manufacturers who want to rethink how to improve product designs to account for their end-of-life reuse. Some products Green Standards encounters are made with multiple types of plastic, glass, metal, and other materials that make recycling challenging.

“Ten years down the road, we might see product that’s coming out of buildings that we had a bit of input into how to design for getting that out of the building effectively,” Langdon says.



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Preparatory Work for UAE to Oman Hafeet Rail Project Commences at Full Speed
Preparatory Work for UAE to Oman Hafeet Rail Project Commences at Full Speed

Preparations have begun on the transformative UAE to Oman Hafeet Rail network, revealing significant construction details during a site visit.

Thu, May 16, 2024 3 min

The $3bn Hafeet Rail project between the UAE and Oman will feature 60 bridges and a 2.5km tunnel, making it an “architectural and engineering marvel,” according to CEO Ahmed Al Musawa Al Hashemi.

Hafeet Rail has announced that preparatory work is moving full speed ahead for constructing the transformative railway link between the UAE and Oman. This announcement was made during a site visit attended by key officials, members of the Asyad and Hafeet Rail executive management teams, project contractors, and consultants.

Key Highlights

During the visit, attendees were introduced to the main components of the project, including passenger, repair, and shipping stations, as well as major bridges and tunnel sites.

The Hafeet Rail project is set to play a very important role in enhancing local and regional trade, unlocking new opportunities in the infrastructure, transportation, and logistics sectors, and fostering economic diversification. It will also strengthen bilateral relations between the UAE and Oman.

The project will involve constructing 60 bridges, some reaching heights of up to 34 meters, and tunnels extending 2.5 kilometres. The Hafeet Rail team showcased the latest rail technologies and innovative engineering and architectural solutions designed to navigate the challenging geographical terrain and weather conditions while maintaining high standards of efficiency and safety.

The rail network will boost various industrial sectors and economic activities and significantly impact the tourism industry by facilitating easier and faster travel between the two countries.

Ahmed Al Bulushi, Asyad Group Chief Executive Asset, noted that the project’s rapid progress reflects the commitment of the UAE and Oman to developing and realizing the project’s multifaceted benefits.

Investment and Future Impact

Al Bulushi added that investments in developing local capabilities and expertise in rail-related disciplines over recent years have enabled the project to reach the implementation phase successfully under the leadership of highly efficient and professional national talent.

Hafeet Rail’s CEO Ahmed Al Musawa Al Hashemi emphasized, “The commencement of preparatory works for construction is a testament to the robust synergy between all parties involved in both nations, achieving this milestone in record time. We are confidently laying down the right tracks thanks to the shareholders of Hafeet Rail and the expertise of local companies in Oman and the UAE, alongside international partners.”

During the site visit, the visitors explored some of the key preparatory sites, including Wadi Al Jizi, where a 700-meter-long bridge towering 34 meters will be constructed. This ambitious project is envisioned as an architectural and engineering marvel in a complex geographical landscape.

Future phases will require more collaboration, with a continued focus on quality, safety, and environmental considerations in line with the international industry best practices.

The Hafeet Rail project represents the first-of-its-kind railway network linking two Gulf nations, marking a significant shift in regional goods transportation. This efficient and reliable transportation option will reduce dependence on slower and less sustainable road transport.

Hafeet Rail promises a 40% reduction in shipping costs and a 50% in transit times compared to traditional land transportation methods, as it will be connecting five major ports and several industrial and free zones in both countries.

This shift will reduce reliance on road transport by cars and trucks and promote more sustainable shipping practices. The establishment of the railway network will also create significant opportunities for SMEs in construction, engineering, and logistics support, acting as a catalyst for economic growth and innovation within the domestic economy.

By linking major ports, the Hafeet Rail project will enable local SMEs to import, export, and distribute their products more effectively, enhancing their market reach and global competitiveness.

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