Summertime dreaming has often been a coping skill for those of us in northern climates. When the weather gets so cold that it is described in vulgar terms, we all go a bit crazy. It’s often time to put on Jimmy Buffet or Bob Marley music and a Hawaiian shirt and start dreaming of warmer days ahead.
If you’re a campus planner or facilities administrator, summertime dreaming often means something quite different. Instead, this time of year means that you are scrambling to put the finishing touches on summer construction plans. This is often the final home stretch of a particular project that has been in process for years.
Now is the time to advocate for those public area recycling bins that you want in next summer’s construction project. It’s a lot like retail stores. They’re always a season or two ahead. By the time you need a pair of shorts in July, the stores already have their racks filled with fall and winter clothes. Like it or not, you have to plan accordingly and plan now for the public area bins you want in that new construction project. But getting what you want often means communicating in a language that your architect understands:
Aesthetics: You will rarely find a better time to advocate for high-aesthetic recycling bins than as part of a new building construction or renovation. Your organization has just spent hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars building or renovating a new building. Planners and architects have spent years of their lives on this project. They care what the finished product looks like. They are very open and interested in conversations about stuff that is going to augment and accentuate their hard work rather than detract from it.
Remember, if they don’t like the way bins look in their brand new hallways, they are going to relegate your bins to hidden areas where no one is going to see them, or use them. Better aesthetics typically equals better results. Think of your bins as furnishings not custodial supplies and work with your architect to specify bins that will work for both of you.
I’d recommend that now is not the time to cling to things like color codes that while nice, are ultimately in my experience not that important. Stick to critical stuff like restrictive lids, parallel access and decent signage. Make sure the bins are ergonomic so that they can be safely emptied by the collection staff. Then, let the architects and planners have the final say in the rest (colors, finishes, etc.).
Marketing a green building: Also remember that if your architect is trying to sell their building as a green building, visible recycling bins can be an important part of that effort. Bins not only can help with certifications, but also help to promote the other green features of your building.
When it’s cold outside, summer might seem like a long way away. But with a little planning, perspective and knowledge, you can help to ensure that your summertime dreaming now avoids a nightmare next summer.