Compost Amendments to QAPs and Green Building Certifications

We at Global Green like compost… a lot. In short, compost creates a closed-loop system between food, soil, and consumers. We recycle our food scraps to be composted into soil amendment, which is then used to fulfill a cornucopia of purposes such as growing food, mitigating storm-water and water conservation issues, soil remediation of brownfields and construction sites, and the list goes on. Fortunately, compost’s resume of environmental services is becoming better known outside of compost producers and community garden circles. In fact, we’re finding compost is making its way into construction and city planning, as well as state legislation (California's Model Water Efficiency Landscaping Ordinance) and green building certification programs.

One way in which we’ve found this to be true is in our QAP Analysis. Twelve years ago, Global Green began completing an annual review of green building practices represented in each state’s Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP) for the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program, publishing a national performance ranking of QAPs (see here for 2017 QAP Analysis Report). For many years, both the topics of 1) landscaping as a form of water conservation, and 2) soil as a form of hazard abatement have been incorporated into our QAP scoring criteria[1], and given CoRR’s focus in recent years on food waste diversion and compost, we decided to take this year’s QAP analysis one step further. This year, in addition to recording mentions of landscaping and soil, we expanded this search by including mentions of the following: soils report, soil remediation, erosion prevention, compost, and community garden.

Our reasoning here was to see if the state Housing Finance Authorities (the agencies setting each state’s QAP criteria) are jumping on the compost bandwagon. Much to our delight, we found that several are doing just that!

This year, six states mentioned or recommended using compost in site development and/or remediation plans; these states are California, Colorado, Montana, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Washington D.C. [2] We also found the State of Arkansas and Washington D.C., both, recommend providing food waste/organics collection programs in their QAPs. As is becoming a common practice, many of these states incorporated compost and organics collection into their QAP by incentivizing or requiring green building third-party certification programs such as Enterprise Green Communities 2015 Criteria (EGC) that include compost and/or organics collection programs in their criteria [3]. In this line, Global Green is working with the U.S. Green Building Council to soon incorporate compost into LEED certification as well. Multi-family residential dwelling developments seeking LEED certification may soon be able to score innovation credits if a comprehensive composting program is included in site development plans.

In summary, both local food waste processing and consumption of compost are increasingly being promoted and incentivized in the urban planning landscape, ultimately planting the seeds for a more sustainable urban food system.

 


[1] Gittlin, Madisen. 2017 QAP Analysis: Green Building Criteria in Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Programs. November 2017. Page 8.

[2] Many additional states are eligible for this tally in that they recommend or require certification through EGC (and therefore indirectly recommend compost use/ organics collection programs), but at this juncture, we’ve only included states that either directly mention compost in their QAP or that require elective EGC criteria (i.e. Erosion and Sedimentation Control is an elective EGC criteria through which compost is a recommended measure).

[3] Enterprise Green Communities 2015 Criteria recommends remediating soil in a sloped area disturbed during construction by using compost blankets and/or filter socks (2015 Enterprise Green Communities Criteria Manual, page 59)

Madisen Gittlin