Volvo Construction Equipment’s new manufacturing facility in Shippensburg, USA is one of North America’s most innovative and environmentally friendly buildings. The facility, which recently unveiled a $30 million expansion, has focused on sustainability in its design, construction, operation and culture to meet the US Green Building Council’s highest standards – LEED certification.
“We wanted to create a work environment that is not only sustainable but promotes eco-friendly practices,” explains Chris Stone, director of industrial support and project in Shippensburg. “LEED certification is designed more for office buildings and not heavy manufacturing plants. But every aspect of our facility emphasizes the importance of our environment. In this way, we aim to create a culture that extends beyond the boundaries of our facility and into our employees’ everyday lives.”
The Shippensburg facility began its quest for LEED certification during its design phase more than two years ago. Numerous environmental innovations were incorporated such as a customized building automation system, high efficient lighting and skylights, substantial insulation, low volume plumbing fixtures and low maintenance outdoor plants that do not require fertilizers or watering. Even improving indoor air quality was thought out with increased ventilation and the use of low-emitting interior finishing products (adhesives, paint, etc).
The $30 million expansion at Shippensburg created a materials service center and an assembly hall, designed to improve manufacturing flow and increase production space. During construction of the 200,000 ft2 facility, sustainable practices covered both building materials and waste materials. Many building products were sourced locally or used recycled materials and a total of 75% of construction waste was diverted from disposal either through recycling or recovery for re-use.
Sustainable behavior in action
Once up and running, the Shippensburg facility adopted sustainable manufacturing methods to continue its efforts towards LEED certification. This covers almost every aspect of the facility’s activity, down to the smallest detail. For example, there are three different recycling solutions for the packaging that Volvo CE receives its materials in, including adopting Volvo’s own re-usable packaging solution called emballage.
“Volvo CE acts with understanding and care for the life cycle of every component and material that we use and create,” says Mr. Stone. “In some cases, our methods may not seem like the grandest undertaking but many modest changes add up to make a huge difference.”
Volvo CE also seeks to develop relationships with companies that share its values for environmental care. ISO 9001, 14001 and OHSAS 18001 certifications are among the qualities it looks for and encourages in suppliers.
Simple things count
The quest for LEED certification does not stop at the facility’s operation, the accolade is as much about physical changes as it is about creating the right culture. The Shippensburg facility uses visual aids – such as recycling bins – and eco-friendly options to build environmental awareness among employees.
“Simple things like providing bicycle racks, preferred parking for low emission vehicles and carpooling can shine a sustainable light on everyday activities and promote the need for environmentally conscious solutions,” explains Mr. Stone.
Volvo CE is also creating a comprehensive environmental training program for all new employees to instill the importance of eco-friendly practices at an early stage.
“For Volvo CE the most important aspect of environmental care is the promotion of eco-friendly practices – both at work and at home,” concludes Mr. Stone. “We aim to be one of the most forward thinking companies in the world. Achieving LEED certification measures our total commitment to the environment. There are few manufacturing facilities in America that are LEED certified, which makes us even more proud and determined to reach our goal.”