Nicolette Mueller

The latest issue of USGBC+ showcases two examples of the groundbreaking work happening as companies take on the challenge of applying LEED to manufacturing and industrial facilities. But Intel and Procter & Gamble are just two members from a core of industry leaders who are challenging the myths and misconceptions around what it means to produce in a green factory.   

Members of the LEED User Group: Industrial Facilities represent companies committed to making a huge impact in markets around the world by achieving LEED certification for their facilitiesno easy feat considering that a manufacturing spaces are vastly more complicated buildings than your average commercial office space.    

At Greenbuild 2014 leaders from this group presented a session on the Five myths of LEED for manufacturing facilities. We would like to share these stories and celebrate the leadership, determination and technical skill that are fundamentally transforming the way we view manufacturing. 

Let’s start with the #1 myth about green building, debunked by Joe Azzarello of Kohler Co. 

Myth #1: Fortune 100 or 500 companies don’t actually use LEED for their own buildings 

Joe Azzarello finds it amusing when he hears people say that greening for manufacturing is just about CSR policies for buying carbon offsets and saving trees.    

To prove his point, he asked his entire audience at Greenbuild to stand up and every time he mentioned a product that they used on a daily basis to sit down. Before he was half way through with his list of products, everyone was sitting down. And then he did it again with the same results!   

“We’re talking about some of the biggest brand names, about products that you use every single day of your life. And these products are all being made by organizations that have LEED certified facilities.” 

In fact, there are over 1,000 manufacturing and industrial projects that have already achieved LEED, and from brands we all know from our local grocery store: Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Mars, Unilever, Kraft and L’Oreal. From the Fortune 100 and 500 lists, we have Daimler AG, Boeing, Hewlett Packard, Qualcomm Incorporated, Ingersoll-Rand, United TechnologiesIntel Corp., Colgate PalmoliveAmstrong World Industries and Johnson Controlsall of whom are using LEED for their buildings.   

“Folks are just plain wrong about not being able to do LEED for manufacturing and industrial centers. Not only is everyone doing it, it’s happening all over the world in the U.S., China, Spain, VietnamMexico, Korea, Germany. You’d have to be blind not to see this global trend,” Joe says.  

What’s driving this global trend is that these companies are tying business sustainability to environmental sustainability. There are a lot of companies out there who are making good on their commitment to do the right thing and to produce the products we need with the smallest possible environmental footprint.  

Joe adds, “And competition drives us to find ways to do it better, with fewer resources because that is the environment we are init’s global competition and when you are a consumer-facing brand, your reputation matters and the competitive price of your product matters.” 

Business sustainability means profitability, and profitability means continuously working to reduce costs and inefficiencies in production. “If energy costs go up, the cost to make your product goes up, and that means the price goes up. Some people are willing to pay more for a product that has better environmental attributes, but a lot of the time they just want a product that’s made by a company they trust, at a price they can afford, that makes their lives better.  And that’s why a lot of large companies are seeing the value of using LEED for their manufacturing plants. Companies are in business to make money, and no one out there would be doing this unless they knew it was going to help the bottom line.”  

 Maybe you can’t yet list all of the products you use every day that were made in a LEED facility, but if Joe is correct, that number is only going to increase.   

“There are a lot of companies out there who are working hard to do the right thing, who recognize the financial value of using LEED and who understand that sustainability makes them more competitive in the consumer market.”  

Manufacturing is adopting sustainability at a rapid pace, with great leadership from large multi-national companies, but with many, many more working to keep pace with the transformation of a global industry.  

LEED factories are no myththey are real, they are here to stay, and they are the future. 

Check out the other articles in our series on the "Five myths of using LEED for manufacturing" and hear from industry experts: