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Sustainable Materials Management Tools

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Why is Measurement Important?

Sustainable materials management (SMM) is a systemic approach to using and reusing materials more productively over their entire life cycles. By looking at a product's life cycle, we can find new opportunities to reduce environmental impacts, conserve resources and reduce costs. In order to understand where opportunities to improvement exist, we must measure a product’s production, use, and entrance into the waste management stream. Using tools which estimate environmental impact and economic benefits, users can determine the best practice for their specific scenario. This information is extremely useful to businesses looking to decrease environmental impact and operating costs, policymakers aiming to decrease trash going to landfills, or even private citizens who want to live a greener lifestyle. These complex systems can be simplified to more easily understood terms, and what can be accurately measured, can be improved preserving environmental resources through economically beneficial activities.

SMM Prioritization Tools

Preview of the toolThe Sustainable Materials Management Prioritization Tools (SMM Prioritization Tools) are life cycle-based tools to help users identify potential opportunities for environmental improvement in the production and consumption of goods and services. These tools can serve as a starting place to help prioritize actions, focus limited human and financial resources to achieve greater overall environmental benefit and consider key industries for collaboration.

Waste Reduction Model (WARM)

Graphic from WARM web areaEPA created the Waste Reduction Model (WARM) to help solid waste planners and organizations track and voluntarily report greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions from several different waste management practices. WARM calculates and totals GHG emissions of baseline and alternative waste management practices—source reduction, recycling, anaerobic digestion, combustion, composting and landfilling.

Tools for Preventing and Diverting Wasted Food

Food Recovery HierarchyThe first step in reducing wasted food is to measure it. By using EPA's wasted food assessment tools, food service establishments can save money, reduce environmental impacts, support efforts to eliminate hunger, increase tax benefits, and more. EPA provides a variety of wasted food assessment tools to suit a food service establishment's unique circumstances.

Assessment Tools for the Built Environment

Combined cover page pictures of both PDF filesThe built environment touches all aspects of our lives, encompassing the buildings we live in, the distribution systems that provide us with water and electricity, and the roads, bridges, and transportation systems we use to get from place to place.  Included in the built environment are secondary materials, and EPA has developed several tools to assist with addressing barriers to the beneficial use of secondary materials.  EPA also keeps a list of organizations working to reduce the disposal of construction and demolition (C&D) materials.

Assessment Tools for Electronics Stewardship

Screenshot of EEBC Tool

An important part of Electronics Stewardship is assessment. Both the Electronics Environmental Benefits Calculator and the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool estimate the environmental benefits of electronics purchasing, use and disposal.

ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager

Energy Star Portfolio ManagerPortfolio Manager has already helped thousands of U.S. organizations benchmark and improve energy performance, prioritize efficiency measures, and verify energy reductions of 10, 20, or even 30 percent or more in buildings, representing huge financial savings. EPA added a waste tracking functionality to its ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager tool. Now the tool manages energy, water, and waste.

Reuse and Recycling Opportunities and Demolition

a pile of salvaged two by fours full of nailsReusable lumber has been salvaged from a home. (Photo credit: FEMA/Marilee Caliendo)It is important to consider deconstruction, reuse and recycling during pre-demolition planning. Careful identification of any harmful materials present will help ensure safe reuse and recycling. Deconstruction and recycling firms must be in compliance with state and federal requirements, including any licensing or registration regulations.

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Tribal Green Building Toolkit

photo of the cover of the toolkitThe Tribal Green Building Toolkit is an assessment tool, with tribal case studies, for identifying and prioritizing structures your community wants to build. It provides detailed information and code references on land use; materials and resource conservation; human health: radon, mold and other hazardous pollutants; energy efficiency and renewable energy; water access, management and sanitation; resilience and adaptability; code implementation and compliance; updating, adapting or adopting codes or developing new codes.