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Building Green: The Future of Food Plants?

Building Green: The Future of Food Plants?

Will "green building" construction become an everyday standard? If so, when? Should you be making changes to your food plant now with this issue in mind? Here are the facts that'll help you decide.

You see references to "building green" everywhere. Cable channel home shows even feature home improvement projects using green building principles. While building green sounds like a good idea, a debate continues in the building community about the costs and benefits of the official green certification, known as LEED.

Understanding LEED

While anyone is free to construct sustainable, energy-efficient structures without third-party verification, the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program is emerging as the stamp of legitimacy for environmentally responsible construction.

The U.S. Green Building Council is a non-profit organization devoted to shifting the building industry towards sustainability, targeting how buildings are designed, built and operated. USGBC established the first standards for the LEED Green Building rating system in 2000, creating a framework for assessing building performance and meeting sustainability goals. LEED standards are currently available or under development for commercial buildings, homes and neighborhood developments.

The New Construction and Major Renovation LEED Standard v2009 measures buildings for energy use, electricity consumption, water use, waste recycling and use of renewable materials, among other things. Buildings are ranked as the following depending on the number of points awarded:

  • Certified - 40 to 49 points
  • Silver - 50 to 59 points
  • Gold - 60 to 79 points
  • Platinum - 80 to 110 points

Debatable Issues

Critics say it's more important to focus on sustainable design rather than getting bogged down with the paperwork necessary to chase LEED points and win certification. Certification itself is sometimes viewed as being as much about marketing as it is about building an environmentally-conscious structure. Furthermore, the LEED rating system was originally developed with large office buildings in mind and not the plethora of other building functions that exist (such as food plants).

Does it really make sense to try for a LEED-rated food plant if you are constructing a new facility, or renovating an existing one? Or is it more reasonable to follow sound green building design principles and not worry about obtaining LEED certification?

Simplifying the Rating System

First, you need to understand how points are obtained under the U.S. Green Building Councils New Construction and Major Renovation (Version 2009) LEED rating system. We have summarized the point system below for which LEED rankings are obtained.

Our next issue will address some of the ways a food plant can gain points for these categories. You can then decided if green building design is for you, and if a LEED-rated building is a goal worth pursuing.

LEED Rating System

New Construction and Major Renovation v2009

Sustainable Sites - 26 points

Credit 1 - Site selection (1 point)

A point is awarded if buildings are not developed on a list of 6 types of inappropriate sites (such as near wetlands or on prime farmland)

Credit 2 - Development Density and Community Connectivity (5 point)

Points are awarded for constructing on a previously developed site in an area dense with buildings or near an area of a dense residential population that has basic public services nearby, such as stores and schools.

Credit 3 - Brownfield Redevelopment (1 point)

If a site is developed on a previously documented brownfield site, one point is awarded.

Credit 4.1 - Alternative Transportation - Public Transportation Access (6 points)

Point are awarded for close access to public transportation.

Credit 4.2 - Alternative Transportation - Bicycle Storage and Changing Rooms (1 points)

One point is awarded for providing bike racks and shower/changing facilities.

Credit 4.3 - Alternative Transportation - Low Emitting and Fuel Efficient Vehicles (3 points)

Points are awarded for providing facilities to accommodate low emitting and fuel-efficient vehicles.

Credit 4.4 - Alternative Transportation - Parking Capacity (2 points)

Point are awarded for providing facilities to encourage carpooling

Credit 5.1 - Site Development - Protect or Restore Habitat (1 points)

One point is awarded for conserving existing natural areas on the site, or restoring previously damaged areas to their natural habitat.

Credit 5.2 - Site Development - Maximize Open Space (1 points)

One point is awarded for maximizing the open space around the building footprint.

Credit 6.1 - Storm water Design -Quality Control (1 points)

One point is awarded for reducing the quantity of the storm water runoff.

Credit 6.2 - Storm water Design - Quantity Control (1 points)

One point is awarded for improving the quality of the storm water runoff.

Credit 7.1 - Heat Island Effect - Non-Roof (1 points)

One point is awarded for reducing the heat island effect of the site area by creating low heat absorbing surfaces.

Credit 7.2 - Heat Island Effect - Roof (1 points)

One point is awarded for low heat adsorbing building roofs.

Credit 8 - Light Pollution Reduction (1 point)

One point is awarded for minimizing the amount of light emitted from the building and parking areas at night.

Water Efficiency - 10 points

Credit 1 - Water-Efficient Landscaping (4 points)

Up to two points are awarded for cutting in half the potable water used for landscape irrigation and up to two points are awarded if no potable water is used for landscape irrigation.

Credit 2 - Innovative Wastewater Technologies (2 point)

Two points are awarded for cutting in half the amount of potable water used for sewage conveyance.

Credit 3 - Water use Reduction (4 points)

Up to two points are award for reducing buildings potable water consumption by 20%; up to two points are awarded for reducing buildings potable water consumption by 30%.

Energy and Atmosphere - 35 points

Credit 1 - Optimize Energy Performance (19 points)

Up to 19 points can be awarded for reducing a building's energy consumption compared to a baseline design.

Credit 2 - On-Site Renewable Energy (7 points)

Up to 7 points can be awarded by using on-site renewable energy sources.

Credit 3 - Enhanced Commissioning (2 point)

Up to two points are awarded for employing a more rigorous commissioning process for building systems.

Credit 4 - Enhanced Refrigerant Management (2 point)

Up to two points for use of refrigerants that minimize or eliminate the emission of compounds that contribute to ozone depletion and global warming.

Credit 5 - Measurement & Verification (3 point)

Up to three points for developing a plan to evaluate building energy system performance.

Credit 6 - Green Power (2 point)

Up to two points for buying  a portion of a building's electric grid feed power from renewable power sources.

Materials and Resources - 14 points

Credit 1.1 - Building Reuse - Maintain Existing Walls, Floors, and Roof (3 points)

Up to 3 points can be attained by reusing various portions of an existing building under renovation.

Credit 1.2 - Building Reuse - Maintain 50% of Interior Non-Structural Elements (1 points)

One point can be attained by reusing various portions of an interior elements of an existing building under renovation.

Credit 2 - Construction Waste Management (2 points)

Up to 2 points can be gained by diverting various portions of demolition and construction debris from a land fill to a recycling center.

Credit 3 - Materials Reuse (2 points)

Up to 2 points can be gained by using a certain amount of materials that have been salvaged from other buildings that have been demolished or renovated.

Credit 4 - Recycled Content (2 points)

Up to 2 points can be obtained for using materials containing minimum quantities of recycled content

Credit 5 - Regional Materials (2 points)

Up to 2 points can be obtained for using a minimum amount of material extracted and manufactured within 500 miles of the site.

Credit 6 - Rapidly Renewable Materials (1 point)

A point can be obtained by using a minimum amount of material from rapidly renewable natural resources.

Credit 7 - Certified Wood (1 point)

A point can be obtained by using a minimum quantity of wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

Indoor Environmental Quality - 15 points

Credit 1 - Outdoor Air Delivery Monitoring (1 point)

One point for installing an automatic system for monitoring the indoor air quality.

Credit 2 - Increased Ventilation (1 point)

One point for increasing the amount of ventilation required by 30%.

Credit 3.1 - Construction IAQ Management Plan - During Construction (1 point)

One point for following certain procedures during construction to improve indoor air quality.

Credit 3.2 - Construction IAQ Management Plan - Before Occupancy (1 point)

One point for following certain procedures before move in improve indoor air quality.

Credit 4.1 - Low-Emitting Materials - Adhesives and Sealants (1 point)

One point for using various adhesives and sealants that have low or no off gassing of volatile organic compounds (VOC).

Credit 4.2 - Low-Emitting Materials - Paints and Coatings (1 point)

One point for using various paints and coatings that have low or no off gassing of volatile organic compounds (VOC).

Credit 4.3 - Low-Emitting Materials  - Flooring Systems (1 point)

One point for using various floor coverings that have low or no off gassing of volatile organic compounds (VOC) or urea-formaldehyde.

Credit 4.4 - Low-Emitting Materials - Composite Wood and Agrifiber Products (1 point)

One point for using various composite woods that have low or no off gassing of volatile organic compounds (VOC) or urea-formaldehyde.

Credit 5 - Indoor Chemical & Pollutant Source Control (1 point)

One point for creating negative pressure zones for areas in the building where hazardous gasses or chemicals may be present and also utilizing air filters with a minimum MERV rating of 13.

Credit 6.1 - Controllability of Systems - Lighting (1 point)

One point is awarded for providing lighting controls for 90% of building occupants.

Credit 6.2 - Controllability of Systems - Thermal Comfort (1 point)

One point is awarded for providing individual heating/cooling controls for 50% of building occupants.

Credit 7.1 - Thermal Comfort - Design (1 point)

One point for designing heating and cooling system to meet ASHRAE Standard 55.

Credit 7.2 - Thermal Comfort - Verification (1 point)

One point for surveying occupants on comfort issues 18 months after occupancy.

Credit 8.1 - Daylight & Views - Daylight(1 point)

One point for providing natural lighting for 75% of occupants.

Credit 8.2 - Daylight & Views - Views (1 point)

One point for providing 90% of occupants with a view to the outside.

Innovation & Design Process - 6 points

Credit 1.1 to 1.5 - Innovation in Design (5 points)

Up to 5 points for substantially exceeding an existing LEED credit and/or demonstrating innovative performance in green building categories not specifically addressed by the LEED rating system.

Credit 2 - LEED Accredited Professional (1 point)

One point is awarded for having a LEED Accredited Professional on the design team. 

Regional Priority Credits - 4 points

Credit 1.1 to 1.4 - Regional Priority (4 points)

Up to 4 points for credits identified by the USGBC regional councils and chapters as having environmental importance for a project’s region.