Genesis Marina, a 570,000-sf commercial office and laboratory project in Brisbane, Calif., has become the world’s first Total Resource Use and Efficiency (TRUE) precertified construction site. The developers are Phase 3 Real Estate Partners, and Bain Capital Real Estate.
The TRUE program is administered by Green Business Certification, Inc. (GBCI), which also implements LEED certification. The TRUE 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.
“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.
Webcor, the general contractor on Genesis Marina, has been 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% 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 stringent California policies driving the Golden State to a circular economy future.
“The official TRUE certification standard was designed for existing facilities, not construction sites,” says Denise Braun, principal at All About Waste. “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 the 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 state 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% 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. “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% of all U.S. waste comes from construction and demolition debris, yet in California only 40% 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.”
Shapiro says Webcor didn’t pick an “easy” project. “It has no demolition debris, which usually accounts for the majority of the total diversion percentage weight. This means that meeting the minimum 90% 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!”
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% 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–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.”
“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.”
Webcor is a premier provider of commercial construction services, known for its innovative and efficient approach, wide range of experience, cost-effective design-build methodology, skill in concrete construction and expertise in building landmark projects. Founded in 1971 and honored as one of the Greenest Builders in California, Healthiest Employers, Top Corporate Philanthropists, Best Places to Work and Largest California Construction Firms, Webcor has offices in San Francisco, Alameda, San Jose, San Diego, and Los Angeles.
ABOUT ALL ABOUT WASTE
All About Waste is a woman- and minority-owned sustainability and zero waste consulting firm based in California. It is WBE, MBE, and DBE certified and has worked to certify more than 200 different LEED, WELL, Fitwel, and TRUE projects, including the first TRUE zero waste high-rise building in the world and the fst multi-tenant and residential building to earnTRUE certification in the world.