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How the Location Decision Affects LEED Certification

Corporate site selectors, economic developers, real estate professionals, and regulators need to understand the relationship between environmental sustainability and industrial location decisions.

Q2 2015
According to a new study from Cushman & Wakefield — “Pursuit of Sustainability” — as more consumers consider not only the products that companies make, but also how and where those products are made, companies are increasingly incorporating sustainability goals such as LEED (Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design) certification into their industrial facility planning process. Therefore, in order to achieve LEED certification, companies must not only consider the design of their facilities, but also their location, notes the study. Further, corporate site selectors, economic developers, real estate professionals, and regulators need to understand the relationship between environmental sustainability and industrial location decisions.
Manufacturers seeking Platinum certification are increasing looking at urban environments for their facilities.
Since one third of all credits required for LEED Platinum certification depend on property and location attributes not traditionally present at greenfield sites/less densely populated locations, manufacturers seeking Platinum certification are increasing looking at urban environments for their facilities. These attributes include development density/community connectivity, access to public transportation, brownfield redevelopment and site suitability, and on-site renewable energy generation potential and/or access to renewable power. Since development timelines and one-time costs may be higher in these urban locations than at greenfield sites, this creates a “tension” among location criteria.

As for LEED certification in general, the U.S. Green Building Council has produced a series of articles under the heading “Five myths about using LEED for manufacturing and industrial facilities.” Among these is myth #5: “Industrial facilities are too large and complex for LEED,” by Osvaldo Gonzalez Martinez, CH2M HILL. In the past when manufacturers would consider LEED for their buildings, says Martinez, they would try to separate the commercial office buildings for certification. He urges manufacturers to consider how people are moving around the manufacturing campus — they don’t spend all their time in the office facility, but rather may move between different factory or utility buildings, and that needs to be taken into consideration when making choices that affect the industrial campus’s sustainability and LEED rating.

As for myth #2: “Factories can’t be green,” Taimur Burki of Intel Corp. explains how Intel considered building envelope, water use, mechanical systems, heating and cooling and more when planning its Chandler, Arizona, facility in order to save millions annually in energy and water costs, while align with LEED standards.

As noted by Matt Poreba, Cushman and Wakefield Consulting Manager and author of the “Pursuit of Sustainability” report, “Organizations are increasingly pursuing sustainability goals for the industrial facilities within their supply chains – and achieving LEED certification for these facilities can be a meaningful differentiator.”
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