The partnership between Expedia Group and Green Standards resulted in the management, removal and repurposing of more than 834 tons of surplus office assets like chairs, desks, tables and file storage from those offices alone.
When Expedia Group, a world leader in the travel industry, decided to move their headquarters in 2019, they wanted to do so while incurring as little impact on the environment as possible. This was no small task considering they were transitioning from a network of offices in Bellevue and Seattle, WA to one centralized location in Seattle’s Interbay neighborhood. With an alarming 8.5 million tons, or 17 billion pounds, of
office assets ending up in U.S. landfills annually, it was important for Expedia Group to find a way to lessen the burden on their local environment.
To help accomplish these goals, they brought in Green Standards to help manage the removal and repurposing of more than 834 tons of surplus office assets like chairs, desks, tables and file storage from those offices alone. With plans for more office consolidation internationally, Expedia Group began deploying Green Standards’ program in Europe as well.
Green Standards is a specialized environmental firm that works with corporations and other large organizations to responsibly redistribute no-longer-needed surplus office furniture, equipment and supplies. Their goal is to make it simple for organizations to recover value, benefit community organizations, and divert waste from office decommissions, storage and other corporate real-estate projects.
Expedia Group required a global turnkey provider with the specialized knowledge, networks, and processes in place to facilitate the decommission and donation of tens of thousands of items while maintaining project timelines and budgets spanning several countries.With a more than 95 percent landfill diversion goal and over 5,000 employees-worth of furnishings to be repurposed, they required in-depth reporting to benchmark the environmental and social performance of their projects.
It was paramount during this process that Expedia Group find ways to reduce their environmental footprint, while also looking to make a difference in the communities that their employees call home. Through this partnership with Green Standards, they strived to handle their decommission in a responsible way while further demonstrating that Expedia Cares. Decommission work started in late 2019 and was ongoing through 2020.
Setting the Stage for a Solution
Before so much as a pencil holder was removed from Expedia Group’s old offices, Green Standards painstakingly classified every item and put them into three categories of assets: those best suited for donation, resale and recycling.
Items set aside for donation are typically gently used in nature and ideal for offices and common spaces at non-profits. Schools are also a big beneficiary, especially when it comes to assets such as desks, chairs and supplies.
Green Standards took responsibility for the entire donation process that included onboarding and managing commercial movers, engaging eligible local non-profits as well as coordinating and documenting asset delivery. To capture the environmental and community impact of their projects, Green Standards includes reporting metrics and notable stories in their cloud-based reporting available to clients after each project.
“Through careful consideration of the impact their move would have on the environment and their community, Expedia Group has benefited dozens of deserving organizations in their own backyard. It comes down to global brands like Expedia Group and actions like these to lead the way to a greener future,” Jonathan Milnes, Co-founder of Green Standards, said upon the project’s completion.
From the Seattle headquarter move alone, more than 80 local non-profit organizations (see Non-Profit Partners sidebar) benefitted from donations of sorely needed office furniture and equipment. Decommissions across Europe have also resulted in numerous organizations giving Expedia Group’s furniture a second life. Through the project, 99 local non-profit organizations, spanning eight countries received in-kind donations.
• Aurora Commons
• Wilderness Aware School
• Kent Chamber of Commerce
• Wellspring Family Services
• Tacoma Little Theatre
• Chinook Middle School
• North Hill Elementary School
• Skunk Works Robotics
• Homeownership Center
• RAIN Incubator
• YouthCare Seattle
Not all usable furnishings and equipment are an ideal fit for donation. In many cases, resale is the best option to keep an item in use. In fact, during the project, more than 20 percent of the materials removed from Expedia Group offices were resold. This brought direct value back to Expedia Group and continued the lifecycle of that furniture and equipment, which is quite an attractive alternative to a trip to the landfill and the tipping fees that would incur.
Conventional liquidation sees about 80 percent of a given inventory being sent to the landfill with only a small portion of those furniture items being resold. This conventional and linear solution adds to the F-Waste issue and provides zero value to the company with surplus assets or those community-based organizations that do not have the budget to purchase new furnishings.
By implementing principles of the circular economy, Green Standards maximizes resale options through their network of buyers ensuring that value is retained monetarily, keeping these items in use for the foreseeable future while limiting waste and pollution.
While the donations are important for the impact on the communities and reselling goes a long way in offsetting other costs, recycling is just as important for the lack of impact it has on the environment. This category represents the items that are not up to the quality of those destined for donation and resale and are often made up of treated wood and metal.
Specialized recycling can generate returns on investment, process a variety of items, and reintroduce materials back into the manufacturing process. In this case, recycling accounted for just over 50 percent of Expedia Group’s sustainable decommission.
To recycle each piece of furniture made up of various materials efficiently, Green Standards worked with strategic partners in the region to determine the best end destination for each item. For example, on this Expedia Group project, Green Standards worked with local companies like The United Group to help transform wood from waste to energy and with Seattle Iron and Metals to process furnishings with high metal content into its raw materials. Green Standards uses the monetary returns from the recycling of metal to offset project costs like labor and trucking for their clients.
As a result of Expedia Group’s partnership with Green Standards, a total of 908 tons of furniture were diverted from landfill, eliminating a total of 2,564 tons of CO2e emissions. This removal of emissions is equal to reducing gasoline consumption by 287,137 gallons, growing 65,631 tree seedlings for 10 years, or offsetting electricity use from 354 homes for one year.
In total, 100 percent of Expedia Group’s furniture and equipment was kept out of landfills. Not every company looks at a company reorganization as an opportunity to have such a positive effect on their communities and neighbors. However, for Expedia Group, which is driven by the values in their Expedia Cares Program, it was a necessity to take this project on in a socially, economically and culturally responsible way.
“This was a very simple decision. As part of our climate neutral goal, we wanted to be sure to decommission our old offices responsibly. When Green Standards asked what we wanted done, we said ‘zero landfill’ because that is always the goal,” Josh Khanna, Expedia Group’s Director of Real Estate Services, said. “They not only delivered that promise, but a number of local non-profit organizations also got office furniture for their workspace.”
Of the 908.3 tons handled by Green Standards, 203 tons were donated, 510.7 were strategically recycled, 190.5 tons were resold, 4.1 tons were relocated to other facilities and zero tons were sent to landfill. The major work was completed by Summer 2020.
The partnership between Expedia Group and Green Standards continues as decommissions of all sizes continue across Europe with an eye towards expanding into projects in all corners of the globe in the coming years. | WA
Green Standards has developed a managed program of office furniture donation, resale and recycling, making it simple and cost-effective to clear out workspaces and enable their clients to do more good. To date, Green Standards has diverted 75,000+ tons of workplace furniture and equipment from landfill (a 98.6 percent diversion rate) and generated more than $32M of in-kind donations to 5,000+ non-profits and communities across North America. For more information, call (855) 632-8036 or e-mail [email protected].