Manufacturing doesn't have to mean messes, brownfields and pollution. The presence of today's industrial complex is less and less likely to be signified by weird chemical smells in the air, piles of odd dust or puddles of strange-colored liquids on the ground or even the iconic billowing smokestack. The new generation of manufacturers are savvy and committed to sustainability in their industrial buildings, energy consumption and manufacturing practices. Some retrofit their buildings or undertake new construction according to the U.S. Green Building Council's (USGBC) LEED standards, improving air quality and design and thereby keeping workers happier and more productive. Others conserve on energy and water consumption. And still others cut back on waste or better still, reuse it.
As of December 2013 there were 738 LEED-certified industrial manufacturing facilities worldwide, representing 195 million sq. ft., with another 1,335 facilities (representing a further 343 million sq. ft.) in the process of obtaining LEED certification. In addition, in 2012 the USGBC formed the LEED Manufacturing User Group, a group of companies committed to applying LEED to their facilities and sharing resources, expertise and best practices with each other. The user group is comprised of Intel Corp., Colgate Palmolive Co., Johnson Controls, Kohler, Procter & Gamble, Siemens Industry Inc., CH2M Hill, URS and UTC Building & Industrial Systems, and is working to leverage LEED to help design and build sustainable manufacturing facilities, enhance collaboration between USGBC and the business community and integrate LEED into their global sustainability strategies.
Here, we highlight what are, arguably, 10 of the most impressive green industrial facilities in the United States, some of which are LEED certified, others of which are not LEED certified but are using innovative practices, and many of which are the first of their types.