New Chicago green building brings lighter footprint to food distribution

While I don’t have numbers at my fingertips, I’d be willing to bet that most new LEED certified commercial buildings fall into the office space category: corporate headquarters or other buildings in which lots of people work behind desks. There’s nothing wrong with that; These structures certainly use plenty of energy and water, and elements of green building such as the focus on daylighting and air quality make for more pleasant and productive workplaces.

But what about those buildings where products are manufactured, processed and/or distributed? In many cases, these are the real resource hogs sorely in need of, at the very least, a good green retrofitting. And new structures built around resource efficiency can be real cost savers for their owners.

Testa Produce’s new distribution center in Chicago serves as a good example. As a commercial supplier of fresh, frozen and canned produce, the need for energy and water intensity come with the business. So along with the architectural firm Epstein, they took these challenges head-on in the design of the new building (which also contains offices). The new distribution center incorporates:

  • A 750 kW wind turbine that will generate 30% of the building’s energy (and I was pleased to see that this feature generated this much energy – wind turbines in certain parts of the country strike me as showy add-ons).
  • Nine solar trees in the parking structure that not only power the building, but could serve as the source of electricity for plug-in vehicles. The building also features solar water heating.
  • 100% LED lighting, a very important efficiency feature if a building’s going to try to run largely on renewables.
  • Water collection and stormwater management features such as a vegetated roof (which is also a great insulator), a 5000 gallon cistern (which should take care of all toilet flushing), a water retention pond and bio swales. All of the paving onsite is water permeable.
  • Additionally, the building is located on a remediated brownfield in the city’s Back of the Yards neighborhood.

Yep, the building’s a showpiece, and Epstein’s Rael Slutsky told The Architect’s Newspaper that Testa wanted just that. But it strikes me as a highly efficient showpiece – and that’s what matters. The company believes that the features listed above as well as a few others, should earn it the US Green Building Council’s LEED Platinum designation.

Seen the Testa Produce distribution center? Let us know what you thought.


Image courtesy of Testa Produce