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October 12, 2017

New York, NY, October 12, 2017The Center for Architecture is delighted to announce the publication of the Zero Waste Design Guidelines, made possible with support from The Rockefeller Foundation. The guidelines were developed in collaboration with the AIA New York Committee on the Environment; Kiss + Cathcart, Architects; ClosedLoops; and the Foodprint Group. The guidelines are intended to help New York City achieve its OneNYC plan, released in April 2015, which outlines a bold goal of sending zero waste to landfills by 2030 – and to help other cities seeking to fulfill their own commitments to waste reduction.

Publication Launch

The guidelines will be unveiled on Wednesday, October 18, at 6:00 pm at a public event featuring several members of the design guidelines team: Clare Miflin, Associate Principal at Kiss + Cathcart, Architects; Juliette Spertus and Benjamin Miller, Co-founders of ClosedLoops; and Christina Grace, principal of Foodprint Group.

They will be joined by Zia Khan, Vice President of Initiatives and Strategy at The Rockefeller Foundation, Mark Chambers, Director of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, and Bridget Anderson, Deputy Commissioner for Recycling and Sustainability at the NYC Department of Sanitation. Chambers and Anderson will discuss how the Zero Waste Design Guidelines can be used to help achieve the city’s Zero Waste plan and form the basis for a conversation on policy and best practices.

Members of the press are invited to a press preview with Q&A from 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM. Please RSVP at

About the Zero Waste Design Guidelines

Waste as a design flaw

Architects and planners design with the movement of people, energy, and water in mind. People circulate the city on streets, water channels through pipes to our faucets, and electricity reaches our homes via intricate networks of cables. However, we spend remarkably little time considering how used materials and other waste flow from our buildings and cities.

Every day, approximately 24,000 tons of waste leaves New York City. Only about 20% of this waste stream is diverted through recycling or composting; the lion’s share winds up in landfills an average of 300 miles away. A third of this waste decomposes anaerobically, generating methane – a greenhouse gas thirty times more potent than carbon dioxide. The consequences of our waste flows are global, so the solutions to them must be as well.

The Zero Waste Design Guidelines address the crucial role that design plays in achieving NYC’s ambitious goal, outlined in OneNYC, to send zero waste to landfills by 2030. As a resource to help designers, building operators, and planners, the guidelines will encourage the collaboration needed to dramatically reduce waste and work toward greater adoption of circular material flows. Rather than languishing in a landfill, the city’s waste could be a resource to create compost, energy, and recycled products – but that depends on our ability to conveniently and hygienically separate our waste.

A comprehensive, inclusive process
The Zero Waste Design Guidelines were developed through a collaborative process starting in January 2017. More than 100 collaborators – including environmental psychologists, building superintendents, private haulers, city planners, biomimetic experts, and marketing consultants – engaged in multidisciplinary workshops at the Center for Architecture. The guidelines team visited more than 40 buildings and held discussions with porters and supers to fully understand waste collection issues across building types.

“I feel like we tapped into a wellspring of enthusiasm and creativity,” said Clare Miflin. “More and more people came to the workshops and all were engaged and motivated to help the city get to zero waste through the design of our buildings and city.”

Rethinking waste strategies
From the micro-scale of the building to the macro-scale of the city, the guidelines encompass design strategies and best practices for reducing waste generation, increasing capture rates, and diverting more waste through new diversion streams. These practices range from co-location of waste and recycling bins at building sites to waste metering for individual households and the creation of shared collection facilities between buildings. The publication also offers a comprehensive review of current rules and standards, including DSNY regulations, building code and zoning requirements, and LEED credits, regarding waste collection at different scales. Each section – residential, commercial, city-wide collection and urban design, and construction and demolition – addresses different typologies, recognizing the importance of offering case-by-case solutions instead of opting for a one-size-fits-all approach.

“As the world’s population becomes increasingly more urban, cities are taking center stage in global efforts to reduce waste of all types, including food waste,” said Peter Madonia, Chief Operating Officer, The Rockefeller Foundation. “Changing how buildings are designed and operated, which make it easier for individual occupants to alter their own behaviors, can add up quickly and have significant impact – especially in cities like New York.”

The Zero Waste Design Guidelines also include implementation strategies to encourage the widespread use of the guidelines, policy suggestions, and research recommendations to help guide these policy changes in the city. Like the Active Design Guidelines, developed by city agencies in collaboration with AIA New York, the principles of the Zero Waste Design Guidelines could become commonplace for developers and architects or required in city agency RFPs. While drafted for New York City, they are designed to be adaptable to other cities who are looking to tackle their waste systems.

“We are proud to serve as the anchor institution for the development of the Zero Waste Design Guidelines,” said Benjamin Prosky, Assoc. AIA, Executive Director of AIA New York | Center for Architecture. “AIA New York has a long history of collaboration with the city on various guidelines, which offer design directions to improve spaces and lives. These efforts are integral to the Chapter’s goal to encourage equitable, healthy and quality design for a broad range of New Yorkers.”

The Zero Waste Design Guidelines will be available at after October 18th.

Related Programming

The publication launch will be followed by programming for professionals and the general public.

The Center for Architecture will host an exhibition curated by journalist Andrew Blum that will look beyond the guidelines and explore the challenges and opportunities latent during a particular segment of the lifecycle of trash: the brief period between when we release it from our hands and it rolls away on the back of a truck. The exhibition, on view from June 14 to September 1, 2018, will be accompanied by a full-day symposium, evening panels, and k-12 educational programming for local students.

Zero Waste Design Guidelines, an initiative of the Center for Architecture, are made possible with support from The Rockefeller Foundation.

About the Center for Architecture
The Center for Architecture is the premier cultural venue for architecture and the built environment in New York City, informed by the complexity of the City’s urban fabric and in dialogue with the global community. The Center shares a home with the AIA New York Chapter and has the unique advantage of drawing upon the ideas and experiences of practicing architects to produce thought-provoking exhibitions, informative public programs, and quality design education experiences for K-12 students. It also leads New York City’s annual month-long architecture and design festival, Archtober. The Center for Architecture’s aim is to further public knowledge about New York City architecture and architects, foster exchange and collaboration among members of the design, development, building, scholarly, and policy sectors, and inspire new ideas about the role of design in communities by presenting contemporary and practical issues in architecture and urbanism to a general audience.

About The Rockefeller Foundation and YieldWise
For more than 100 years, The Rockefeller Foundation’s mission has been to promote the well-being of humanity throughout the world. Today, The Rockefeller Foundation pursues this mission through dual goals: advancing inclusive economies that expand opportunities for more broadly shared prosperity, and building resilience by helping people, communities and institutions prepare for, withstand, and emerge stronger from acute shocks and chronic stresses. Support for the Zero Waste Design Guidelines is part of The Foundation’s $130 million YieldWise initiative, which seeks to prove that global food waste can be cut in half in seven years. To learn more, visit

About the AIANY Committee on the Environment
The AIA New York Committee on the Environment aims to lead, inspire, and educate its members towards the dual objectives of design and sustainability. COTE organizes engaging activities and events focusing on leading architects, outstanding green buildings, current technologies and product research, and sustainable design practices. The committee’s efforts are based on the belief that sustainability should be an essential part of the design process and fully integrated with all aspects of a building, including form, function, site, structure, systems, and construction. AIANY COTE works in partnership with the National AIA COTE and supports the AIA 2030 Commitment by providing educational opportunities to further the role of architects in creating a sustainable future.

AIA New York is the oldest and largest chapter of the American Institute of Architects, with over 5,500 architects, allied professionals, students, and public members. AIANY is dedicated to three goals: design excellence, public outreach and professional development, and towards these aims, AIANY runs the Center for Architecture, a storefront exhibition space in Greenwich Village, sponsors public programs, publishes a magazine, and works with its charitable affiliate, the Center for Architecture Foundation, to provide scholarship and educational opportunities. For more information on AIANY, please visit

About ClosedLoops
ClosedLoops is a consulting and development firm devoted to advancing innovative solutions to problems in urban logistics, with a focus on the management of solid wastes and the movement of freight. Among its current projects is an initiative to develop pneumatic-tube collection of waste, recycling, and organics along the High Line corridor, with direct transfer to rail and with on-site anaerobic digestion of restaurant waste to produce energy for local use.

About Foodprint Group
Foodprint Group is a food systems planning consultancy with expertise in organic waste reduction and management at the building and neighborhood scale. Foodprint Group’s organic waste practice serves a diverse set of national and global commercial and non-profit clients. Projects include organic waste assessments, program development and training, site planning, onsite processing equipment evaluations as well as city and state policy research and recommendations.

About Kiss + Cathcart, Architects
Kiss + Cathcart Architects is a versatile and progressive architectural practice that has designed a wide range of projects while maintaining high standards of design, economy, and ecological soundness. The firm’s work focuses on ‘productive’ architecture that creates positive benefits on every level – human, environmental, and economic. Since the founding of the office in 1983, the firm has completed project types from high-tech manufacturing facilities and public institutions, to affordable housing and research funded by NYSERDA and the National Science Foundation. The practice has been consistently honored by international awards, invited lectures and competitions, and extensive publication in venues such as Architectural Record, The New York Times, Wired, Dwell, and Metropolis. Clare Miflin, Associate Principal at K+C and member of AIANY COTE, formulated the idea for the Design Guidelines and is Principal Investigator for the project.


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