Overcoming Barriers and Inefficiencies in Waste Management and Diversion in Laboratory Design

Noble Lilliestierna, PE, LEED BD+C, BSA LifeStructures
Monique Kowalik, LEED Green Associate, BSA LifeStructures

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Laboratories produce a significant amount of waste, but with careful planning, many of these waste streams can be recycled or reused. In collaboration with the I2SL Laboratory Waste Landfill Diversion Working Group, this presentation will use the Lab Waste Diversion Survey conducted in 2017 as a framework and build upon the information collected to discuss barriers and challenges to lab recycling programs, efficient supply chain design, and functional space design for waste diversion either inside or outside the laboratory.

Space for landfill diversion practices has not typically been prioritized in lab planning; however, this study aims to challenge that method of thinking. Laboratories have complex waste streams, with some institutions having up to 35 waste streams that cannot realistically be sorted at a loading dock or by EVS/Materials Management without proper knowledge to prevent contamination. Recycling and waste diversion operations have a direct correlation with effective space planning to allow for efficient processes; furthermore, space planning in the schematic design phase for sustainable practices requires an understanding of the behaviors and needs of the users, and this presentation aims to begin bridging that gap.

Learning Objectives

  • Identify best practices for designing efficient supply chain or sorting design in existing and new construction laboratories;
  • Identify the challenges in sorting complex and multiple waste streams and discuss the space requirement implications;
  • Learn how early space planning for waste diversion can promote positive behavior and increase operational efficiency; and
  • Identify waste diversion benchmarking methods to help move an institution's sustainability goals in the laboratory forward.


Noble is a mechanical engineer focused on sustainability who is always looking for what can make our buildings healthier places for the planet and the people who use them. As part of integrated design teams, he draws from knowledge including energy modeling, passive and active solar systems, daylighting, computational fluid dynamics, and renewable energy generation.

Monique has experience on a variety of project types from small renovations to new construction. Her approach to design involves questioning assumptions and working to create a rational yet aspirational solution. Her passion for sustainability continues by delivering high-performing, innovative, and sustainable projects. This passion continues as a member of the office-wide sustainability committee as well as into her personal life with a goal of plastic reduction and landfill diversion.


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