July 11, 2009 in Washington Voices

Waste Management center embodies ‘green’ thinking

Juli Wasson
J. Bart Rayniak photo

bartr@spokesman.comWaste Management of Spokane’s new operations center in Spokane Valley has a 45-second automated truck-washing system and miniwastewater treatment system to recycle most of that water.
(Full-size photo)

Fast facts

What: Waste Management of Spokane Operations Center

Where: 11321 E. Indiana Ave.

Contact: (509) 924-9400 for service-related requests and issues; www.wmnorthwest.com or www.thinkgreen.com

It just got easier being green for Waste Management.

The company has built a new energy-efficient, low environmental-impact operations center in Spokane Valley, designed specifically to take advantage of technological advances in such aspects as recycled building materials, small-scale wastewater treatment and solar power generation. The company celebrated its grand opening last month.

“This facility represents our commitment to environmental sustainability in all that we do,” said Waste Management of Spokane District Manager Marco Gonzalez, noting the site was designed and built to meet standards set by the U.S. Green Building Council and company officials are currently awaiting the council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold certification.

The Valley site is among 15 facilities nationwide built to such environmental standards for the Houston-based company. It cost $8.5 million and sits on 8.5 acres just north of Interstate 90 along Indiana Avenue and is the main hub for some 70 employees, 64 vehicles and collection equipment, and the area’s dispatch and administration center. It was designed by ET Environmental of Portland.

The Valley is the area’s central location for the company, with about 52,000 residential and commercial customers. It also serves thousands of others in Millwood, Liberty Lake, Deer Park, and some unincorporated areas of Spokane County from the facility.

The new site is a huge leap from the company’s previous location in the Valley that required trucks to be parked along the street and employees scattered in portable offices, and where mechanics worked year-round in gravel parking lots and, admittedly, where trucks were washed when it was absolutely necessary with hoses and water buckets.

“We outgrew our other facility years ago,” said Ken Gimpel, the company’s area municipal relations manager. “This has been in the planning stages for probably five years.”

Now, the site includes four acres dedicated for vehicle parking and a 22,700-square-foot, two-level building with a six-bay shop where mechanics can work comfortably in a climate-controlled environment on polished concrete with mostly natural lighting.

Nearby is the 45-second automated truck-washing system and miniwastewater treatment system to recycle most of that water. The building also has large employee meeting and training rooms and showering facilities.

Employee pride and professionalism have been taken up a notch with the move, company officials say. And they are quick to add that the new facility was built with overall health and wellness in mind as well.

“It’s been our focus to improve or enhance our environmental stewardship,” Gimpel said. “We’re just trying to lead by example and walk the talk.”

Some other aspects of the building and site include:

•Twenty-eight percent of the building is composed of recycled materials. The ceiling tiles, steel studs, door frames, carpet and gypsum all consist of recycled content.

•Low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints, finishes and adhesives.

•Light-reflective roofing and concrete paving designed to reduce the “heat island” effect.

•Wood products derived from certified sustainable forests and with no added urea formaldehyde.

•Alternative employee transportation incentives, including preferred parking for low-emission or fuel-efficient vehicles, and bicycle racks.

•Solar panels to supplement facility energy needs.

•The facility creates no offsite stormwater as natural areas were created onsite.

•Only native vegetation that requires low-level irrigation was planted.

•Automatic light dimming and maximization of natural light through windows and skylights is used throughout.

•Forty-five percent of the building materials were extracted, mined or manufactured within a 500-mile radius of the facility; contributing to local economy and lessening air emissions associated with transportation.

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