Cold storage, food companies warm to LEED


Leaders lead by example. It’s not surprising that temperature-controlled food processors, distributors and warehouse operators are considering the utmost in sustainable, green practices and perhaps LEED certification for their new or renovated buildings.

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) established LEED in 2000 as a third-party certification program and the national benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings and neighborhoods. LEED certification offers validation of a project’s green features and verifies that the building is operating exactly as designed. Is LEED certification possible for your next construction project? Let’s examine the issue.

Although LEED, since its inception, has expanded to several building sectors, it started with office buildings — not cold storage warehouses. And although the food industry has welcomed LEED-certified dry food plants and even its first frozen food operation (a Lamb-Weston sweet potato plant), USGBC has not released LEED certification guidelines for refrigerated warehouses.

ESI Design Services (ESI) is now on track to complete one of the industry’s first LEED-certified multi-temperature warehouses. This Texas project had to overcome some difficult prerequisite obstacles such as requesting the USGBC to issue a special compliance ruling to exempt the project from certain energy reduction and air exchange performance levels required for regular office building projects.

ESI has more than 15 years experience conserving energy for clients and already designs some of the industry’s most environmentally friendly and energy efficient food plants and warehouses. This encompasses everything from the latest heat reflecting roofing materials to wastewater reclaim technology — to creative ways of using highly efficient low temperature ammonia refrigeration systems to condition ambient air in the warehouse and main office areas. ESI stays abreast of new and emerging technologies — from high bay fluorescent or LED lighting and variable frequency drives to alternative forklift fuel sources and solar panels. We can also assist our clients to secure federal, state and local energy tax credits and incentives for green technology implementation.

If you are planning a construction project and are curious about possible LEED certification, ESI can prepare a strategic plan for any building that (1) examines potential LEED points, (2) helps the owner determine how practical it is to achieve certification and (3) delineates the potential costs.

By Tim Gibbons
Gibbons is VP of ESI Design Services and has 15 years of experience in the design and construction of foodservice facilities.


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