05
Jun
08

Green Warehouses: Corporations Meet Sustainability Challenge

Kraft Foods, according to an announcement from ProLogis (which owns, manages and develops distribution facilities) has built a new distribution center in Morris, Illinois, which holds the distinction of being the largest structure in the world holding a Commercial Interiors certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.

The 800,000 square-foot distribution facility was completed last year, and more recently, interior modifications led to the LEED Gold recognition. For Kraft, it’s a first, and certainly worthy of congratulation. The company’s Vice President for logistics, David Klavsons, had this to say:

This is a great accomplishment for our company and provides tremendous momentum for our future sustainability initiatives. We have a longstanding relationship with ProLogis and, by leveraging their expertise in green construction practices, the company has added an even higher value to our partnership.

For ProLogis, this Illinois facility is their third in the United States to receive LEED certification, and they have nine more warehouses currently vying for certification. A ProLogis executive re-affirmed the company’s determination to become the global leader in the construction of sustainable warehouses. Its customers include transportation, manufacturing and retail concerns, as well as third-party logistics providers. From its Denver, Colorado, headquarters, ProLogis controls about 526 million square feet of such facilities altogether, worldwide.

Every day, around 125 trucks approach the warehouse to either bring in or take away Kraft food products, chiefly baked good like chips and cookies. But what makes this warehouse special?

For starters, nearly 100 percent of the construction materials debris (more than 1000 tons) was kept out of the landfill by diverting it to recycling centers, while recycled and locally sourced materials were used as much as possible for the interior remodeling. An energy reduction of 60 percent was achieved in the area of lighting, through use of windows, fluorescent lamps, and motion detectors. Within the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system, energy use was reduced by 40 percent, and only one quarter of the building’s area is air-conditioned. All the paints, adhesives, sealants and coatings used were chosen with an eye to their emission levels of volatile organic compounds (VOC), while carpeting and furniture are made from recycled materials.

Wood and wood-based construction materials came with the blessing of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). This is the international organization devoted to best practices for sustainable forestry. The website of the U.S. branch lists the group’s principles, which cover compliance with local law, tenure and use rights, indigenous peoples’ rights, workers’ rights, community relations, environmental impact, management strategy, monitoring and assessment, and much more.

Kraft is not the only corporation concerned with “green” warehouses, of course. Nextgen Vending, purveyor of organic foods and beverages, recently opened a new facility in Boise, Idaho with several advanced features. Eden Foods, which also sells organic edibles, recently broke ground for a facility in Michigan that aims for LEED certification. The Lucky’s Warehouse project in Baltimore is the subject of a well-explained and profusely illustrated case study at Greenline, and many other similar projects are being developed throughout the country.

SOURCE: “Kraft Foods and ProLogis Announce Largest LEED-CI Gold Certification at Chicago-Area Distribution Center” 05/21/08
photo courtesy of tom.arthur , used under this Creative Commons license

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