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LEED has become the most widely used green-building rating system in the world, driven by a growing number of multinational manufacturing companies.

In the Engineers Journal, Micheal Keohane, Sustainability Specialist and LEED AP with PM Group, explains how the latest iteration of LEED defines a tailored certification path for manufacturing sites.

1,755 LEED certified industrial facilities worldwide

Until recently, many companies focused their LEED campaigns on gaining certification for commercial buildings. However, given the massive energy and water demands of the typical industrial process, there is now recognition that far more significant benefits can be achieved by extending the approach to the process environment. Currently, there are more than 1,755 LEED-certified industrial facilities worldwide, crushing the myth that manufacturing facilities are too complex or large for LEED.

In the LEED system, facilities earn points for specific criteria, including sustainability of the site and of building materials, recycling of waste materials and efficiency of the water and power systems. This enables projects to be scored a 110-point scale to achieve a LEED Certified, Silver, Gold or Platinum levels.

LEED now more applicable to high-tech facilities

Developed by the US Green Building Council, the LEED v4 certification path for manufacturing sites includes dedicated ratings for data centres and mission critical and warehouse environments. In addition, certain credits – for example, for process energy and water – have been adapted, making LEED far more applicable to hi-tech, pharmaceutical and medtech facilities.

Another new feature, LEED Campus Guidance is designed for projects on a shared site. This allows industrial and manufacturing campuses with multiple buildings a less complicated certification route through standardisation, increased predictability and streamlined operations.

Flexibility accommodates innovation

While other Green building standards can be quite prescriptive, the beauty of LEED is its flexibility. If designers identify an innovative approach for reducing environmental impact on a LEED project, they are free to run with it.

PM Group provided LEED consulting on a €80m renovation project for Janssen Biologics B.V. in Holland, for the design and construction of a Phase lll, clinical trial vaccine manufacturing facility. Achieving LEED Gold Certification, the project provided significant HVAC and lighting energy and water consumption savings compared to a typical, similarly sized conventional building.

Operational cost savings

“The application of green design principles to a complicated industrial manufacturing building is often deemed to be too difficult or costly in practice, but is all the more necessary given the high energy and water usage associated with these buildings, and the absolute requirement for healthy working environment for employees,” says Michael.

“A core level of sustainability can be embedded in the most complicated and diverse industrial manufacturing projects, at little or no additional capital cost, whilst also providing operational cost savings over the lifetime of the building’s operation.”

Healthy working environments

LEED buildings score well on providing a healthy working environment for occupants, with high levels of daylight and internal air quality. They reduce environmental impacts for the local community – and globally. In addition, they offer reduced annual operating costs and increased asset value for owners. In short, there is a triple bottom-line, with benefits for people, the planet and profit.