The First US LEED Platinum Food Distribution Center
I had the opportunity to receive a tour of TESTA Produce, the first LEED Platinum food distribution center in the US this last Friday, located in the Back of the Yards neighborhood of Chicago. This was a groundbreaking building for future LEED warehouses and refrigerated buildings. One of the keynote features of this facility is the large wind turbine which is the landmark icon for the facility; it was how I knew that I had reached my bus stop along the 47 route.
The keynote feature of this facility is the 238 foot, 750 kw turbine which contributes towards 38% of the building’s energy. This may seem like a low number to many people but for a facility that maintains refrigerator and freezer temperatures in its warehouse space, being able to compensate for 38% of the energy consumption with wind energy is incredible. The payback period for this wind turbine is seven and a half years.
After your gaze wanders from the wind turbine the next keynote feature is the green roof which barrels over the crest of the roofline and supports native vegetation. This sloped green roof is 45,650 square feet and maintains an insulated barrier for the building envelope. Additionally the roof collects rainwater which is then reused as non-potable (greywater) throughout the building’s plumbing facilities.
The application of all LED lights throughout both the office space and storage facilities within the building really reflects how new energy saving technologies can contribute towards both functionality and energy savings. Most facilities of this type are lit by large ballast lights which radiate a lot more heat than LED lights and take several minutes to warm up and light up. The lighting system in Testa’s large cold storage area does not add heat to the system and is activated by the movement of the forklifts that bring products around the space. These lights are also adjustable by dimmers which adjust based on the activity levels of the warehouse. For example, 4 AM is the busiest hour in the warehouse and this is when the LEDs are at 100%, but closer to 10 AM does not have as much activity and the lights are not as strong.
There are many more integrated solutions and technologies that are being utilized at Testa Produce that I highly recommend anyone to get a tour of the facility which they offer pretty frequently through various groups and organizations. The truly remarkable part of this project is the use of such a wide range of sustainable, renewable practices. This probably wouldn’t have happened without a private owner who had the foresight to see that these building system changes would pay off in the long run.