Can a Factory be a Green Building and What is the Point?

“What’s this “LEEDs” thing I keep hearing about?”

There are 20,000 certified LEED projects in North America. It’s the most widely used green building certification – Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED – singular, not plural!) The program has been offered by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) since 2000. Participants score points based upon the design and operation of their buildings, and receive an award of Certified, Silver, Gold or Platinum based on point totals after independent review of the project.

Does it actually save me any money?

The process of designing a building to be LEED compliant can save you money on electricity, natural gas or oil costs, can reduce the number of sick days taken by employees, and can increase learning speed and productivity. The biggest issue I have seen in the dozen or so projects I have done, is the lack of commitment by the companies seeking LEED. The above benefits are obtained through an examination of the efficiencies and design criteria, which sometimes are put second to “buying credit points.” This is paying for green objects simply because it gets a higher score rather than penciling out the deeper savings such as best airflow rates, lighting levels, and other energy consuming functions of the building.

Why do people get a green certified building?

The most comfortable work environments I have ever been in, are such because they went through the rigors of good green-building design. Some building owners do it because their tenants want it, or they can ask for more rent because it’s green. Still other people do it as part of their enterprise-wide Sustainability program to improve the company’s standing with shareholders, customers or the general public.

Can factories become certified as green?

Yes, many manufacturers have adopted LEED, either when renovating and expanding a current space, building new, or certifying under the “Existing Building” program. Factory buildings are unique because they mix office space, with production, warehouse and laboratory spaces. They also tend to be large energy users (Btu / square foot) , so the opportunities to save energy are also large. Here are some “leading” examples (sorry, I couldn’t help the pun.)

  • Sabra Hummus Factory – LEED Gold (Charlotte NC, USA)
  • Dadanco / Mestek Factory – LEED Gold – (Westfield, MA, USA)
  • Tetra-Pak Factory – LEED Platinum (Chakan, Pune, India)
  • Pepsi –Frito Lay Factory – LEED Gold (Modesto, CA, USA)
  • Carrier Factory – LEED Gold (Monterrey, Mexico)

How can I get started?

The U.S. Green Building Council is the formal organization that defines the LEED programs and grants certification. It is helpful to enlist the help of a certified LEED-Accredited Professional (LEED-AP) to help guide you through the process, and select energy efficient and green materials.

Is LEED the only show in town?

Not at all. There are several other prominent green building / green design programs out there such as Green Globes, the Living Building Challenge, and BREEAM (international).

Good luck in building yourself an environmentally friendly, energy efficient building!

Do you have any other important points or resources to share about Green Building Certifications?


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