Ask Angela: How can we prepare a construction site for summer storms?

Angela Phillips has been with ZTERS for nearly a decade and answers your questions here on the website. Have a question? Reach out through our Facebook page or DM us on Instagram or Twitter.

Dear Angela, it seems like summer storms catch us by surprise each year and we lose time and money from materials being damaged or flooding and water damage to the site. Is there anything we can do to prep the site in advance?

Thanks for your question. Every year we help people recovering from summer storms, whether it’s extra dumpsters and porta potties or storage containers and temporary office trailers. There are a few things you can do to prep your site in early summer to help mitigate damage from extreme weather. Here’s what we recommend:

  • Secure your materials. We know lumber and material costs have been out of control for the last year, so you may already be storing all your supplies in locked storage containers. If you’re not, invest in enough storage to house all your tools and supplies. Containers aren’t completely weatherproof, but they do go a long way toward keeping your materials and tools safe and dry during the hot, wet summer months.
  • Properly install dumpsters and storage containers. On a related note, make sure you’ve installed your dumpsters and containers on concrete, gravel, a plywood base, or some kind of level, hard surface. We’ve seen too many examples of people placing dumpsters and containers on bare, dry ground only to have them sink inches or feet into mud after a hard rain. Good luck getting a full storage container out of the mud. You’ll be waiting weeks — and paying rental fees that whole time — waiting for the ground to dry out enough to move the dumpster or container.
  • Keep the area clean. Strong winds can turn anything into a projectile, and a construction site is full of potential dangers. Make sure crews are keeping the site clean and do a “storm check” at the end of every day. Even small items can be picked up by a gust of wind and cause damage or harm in a strong storm. Pack everything away in storage containers or in trucks at the end of each day.
  • Make a plan for flooding. It’s pretty much inevitable there’s going to be at least one storm per summer that causes flooding. Have a plan and communicate it to everyone on your team. This might include always having sandbags on hand, having extra plywood for boarding up windows, having a water pump on site, and making sure you have a written plan for checking on crew members after a storm. Part of your plan should be assigning post-storm responsibilities, including someone who can check on the jobsite as soon as it’s safe, and a first-response crew to handle debris removal and water pump operation, if needed.

Most importantly, stay on top of the weather. You mentioned storms have caught you by surprise in the past, and that’s not uncommon. Set up weather alerts on your phone or tablet and keep an eye out for potential flooding dangers. With some prep work and planning, you can help your crew and your site recover from summer storms.

When summer weather hits, you can always call your ZTERS account manager to help source additional dumpsters, toilets, and other services when you need them. We’ll do our best to get you back up and running when the danger has passed. 

3 Types of Commercial Waste Audits

Financially, environmentally, and even from a public relations standpoint, getting an accurate commercial facility waste audit is the key to improving diversion efforts and achieving sustainability goals. You need a baseline to work from because the more waste produced by your building, the bigger the problem is. Conducting a waste audit can help you identify opportunities to cut back waste, improve diversion and sustainability measures, and save money. Use a commercial waste audit to get a baseline on your garbage output, so you can put together more effective sustainability and diversion initiatives.  

Benchmark Commercial Waste Audits

A benchmark waste audit is a baseline auditing process that helps a facility identify opportunities to cut waste. This is the easiest and least time-consuming audit. During the process, you will identify the waste streams within your facility and make surface-level changes that reduce waste. This could include employee education on how and when to recycle. If you work with a waste maintenance company, they can recommend changes to your service levels to ensure that you’re paying for the right level of service for your business. The goal is to identify ways to streamline your waste and save money on waste pick-up. 

For example, we frequently perform these initial waste audits for companies and make recommendations that right-size service levels. Benchmark waste audits aren’t meant to be a deep dive into your business processes. If you’d like to cut waste but aren’t in a position to make dramatic changes to the way your business works, a benchmark waste audit is a good starting point. If you decide to go deeper into your commercial garbage down the road, you can always conduct a deeper dive later. 

Forensic Waste Audits

During a forensic waste audit, all of your facility’s waste is sorted, separated, weighed and analyzed. It’s a good idea to hire waste experts for this process, because it can be time consuming and overwhelming for an in-house team to try and do this themselves. Look for an experienced commercial waste company that knows what to look for and how to divert the different types of recyclables being thrown away at your facility. For example, we dig into the actual volume and types of waste produced by your business, then we make recommendations that allow you to divert waste from the landfill and into recycling centers. This includes metals, pallets, food waste, and other materials. 

Your facility could be missing out on opportunities to divert waste, and if so, this audit will uncover those issues. This is a deep dive into your business waste, and we can make much more granular recommendations based on the findings. It’s also a key way to identify diversion opportunities to improve sustainability efforts. 

Comprehensive Waste Audit 

How often do you dive deep into your waste charges and expenses? A comprehensive waste audit goes beyond the physical trash and digs into your service cost history and all the associated waste fees and expenses being charged to your company. As an independent waste service provider, we can examine your expenses and typically identify several areas where we can streamline your costs. We also have relationships with many nationwide haulers, and in many cases we can renegotiate service levels and fees on your behalf to get you more cost-effective services … even if you’re in a contract. 

For example, we’ve been able to use the latest camera and fullness measuring technologies to fine-tune our customers’ service levels and help them save up to 30% on their commercial waste bill. Once we’ve conducted a waste audit, we are able to put together a custom package for each facility.  

If you’re about to embark on a commercial waste audit, start by determining which type of waste audit is right for you. Depending on the size of your facility and the amount of garbage produced, your staff may or may not be equipped to manage an effective waste audit. We’ve helped hundreds of commercial facilities right-size their service after conducting a waste analysis. And we do this with no binding contracts or hidden fees. 

Give us a call and we can determine the right type of waste audit for your facility. We’ll find the right solutions to save you time and money on commercial trash service