The TRUE program is administered by Green Business Certification, Inc. (GBCI), which also implements Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, the world’s most widely used green building rating system. The precertification recognizes projects that have implemented the fundamental actions and policies needed to effectively pursue zero waste and have demonstrated a commitment to achieving TRUE certification.
Pursuit of TRUE certification aligns with the forward-thinking vision that Phase 3 Real Estate Partners, Inc. and Bain Capital Real Estate (developer/owner) share for their Genesis projects.
“The companies that will call Genesis Marina home are discovering the future. Programs like the TRUE certification, through its focus on sustainability, reusability, and social responsibility, are key to that future as well,” says Michael Gerrity, president of Phase 3 Real Estate Partners, Inc. “Phase 3 and Bain are excited and supportive [of the fact] that Webcor and our project team have undertaken this significant effort.”
“We are proud to partner with a forward-thinking builder such as Webcor that leads the construction industry by not only building some of the most well-known and impactful projects in the country, but also ensuring their actions throughout the construction process positively impact society and the environment for generations to come,” says Joe Marconi, a managing director at Bain Capital Real Estate.
Webcor has been driving this highly ambitious sustainability initiative in partnership with zero waste consultant All About Waste since March 2021. Located on a former landfill, the Genesis Marina project site is expected to divert over 90 percent of its waste from landfills and incineration. These efforts help significantly reduce carbon emissions, support public health, and promote local jobs and alternatives to the traditional approach of disposing of the materials – aligning with the stringent California policies driving the state to a circular economy future.
“Webcor is a pioneer for TRUE certification because they’re delivering the first construction project to achieve precertification – a key first step to achieving full certification and becoming the first TRUE-certified construction site,” says Denise Braun, principal at All About Waste. “The official TRUE certification standard was designed for existing facilities, not construction sites. There’s a lot of potential for growth in that arena, and Webcor has created the foundation to manage both on-site field and in-office waste in an effective, progressive manner.”
“While LEED focuses on mainly energy and water efficiency (Genesis Marina is pursuing LEED Gold certification), TRUE certification helps the site dramatically reduce waste that is brought in while also ensuring that removed waste is reused and diverted from becoming trash. TRUE is a rigorous zero waste program in part because it does not accept incineration as a diversion strategy,” says Celeste McMickle, director at U.S. Green Building Council.
The pursuit of TRUE certification directly aligns with Webcor’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy: Two of the Waste Management goals established on its CSR website states the company’s commitments to implementing a TRUE program for zero waste on a jobsite by the end of next year and to reducing overall waste by 2 percent annually.
“Construction is one of the leading industries in waste, but it doesn’t have to be,” says Soonrock Park, the Webcor senior project manager overseeing Genesis Marina. “Webcor has always led bold initiatives in construction; our pursuit of TRUE certification for this project is just one example. TRUE encourages all participants, from designers to end users, to consider the full circular economy of the materials we bring to a site and use within our operations. The goal is to divert all solid waste from the landfill, incineration, and the environment.”
“About 65 percent of all U.S. waste comes from construction and demolition (C&D) debris, yet in California only 40 percent of that C&D debris is diverted from landfills,” adds Webcor Sustainability Director Jenelle Shapiro. “To put it in perspective, our one construction business, on average, generates 1,700 tons of C&D debris monthly, which annually is equivalent to 130 blue whales – the largest animal in the world. For perspective, a blue whale is the length of a Boeing 737. That is a lot of waste, and a lot of opportunity, and we are just one general contractor.”
When Shapiro and Webcor Sr. Vice President Tom Taylor first approached the Genesis Marina team about pursuing TRUE certification, they were met with enthusiastic support from all team leaders – despite the unique challenges that lay ahead.
“Honestly, we didn’t pick an ‘easy’ project,” Shapiro says. “It has no demolition debris, which usually accounts for the majority of the total diversion percentage weight. This means that meeting the minimum 90 percent diversion rate requirement is even more difficult than it would be on a more typical project, but we didn’t want to take the easy approach. We wanted to challenge ourselves and the market to make it feasible on any type of project!”
Whether an existing facility or a construction site, achieving TRUE certification is no simple feat. To be considered eligible, projects must meet a minimum of seven program requirements (prerequisites) and attain at least 31 points on the TRUE scorecard. Such criteria includes implementing a zero waste policy by diverting 90 percent of all waste generated, as well as meeting all solid waste and recycling regulations.
“Many other certifications were designed decades ago to spur on sustainable design,” says Brock Hill, vice president at Premiere Recycle Company, a Recycling Certification Institute (RCI)-certified waste hauler and processing facility managing the construction debris for Genesis Marina. “While they have had success, an entire industry has been built around achieving those points. Changing those certifications is synonymous to turning a moving cruise ship. Pursuing TRUE takes courage to blaze a new path; it’s not a cookie-cutter process in current norms.”
As the journey to achieving TRUE certification continues, the Webcor team remains prepared to tackle all challenges inherent in pursuing such a game-changing and unique sustainability certification.
“We need to change the mentality of personnel at all levels – field, office, vendors, manufacturers, etc. – and inspire them to care about waste and the way it’s being handled,” says Miranda Nowlen, a Webcor senior project engineer on Genesis Marina who has championed the project’s pursuit of TRUE certification. “Implementing a program like TRUE certification challenges the designers, general contractors, trade partners, vendors, and end users to be conscious of where the product began and where it will end – something that isn’t always considered. We are proud to lay the groundwork [for zero waste construction sites] and push the construction industry to re-evaluate how it operates.”