Expanding our vision of what a green building can be
By Richard T. Murphy, FASLA
Note: Richard T. Murphy is a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects and the president and CEO of the Murphy Warehouse Co.
The image often associated with a green building is the innovative new skyscraper in the center of the city or the state-of-the-art hospital with the newest technology, but green buildings can come in all shapes and sizes, representing all project types.
Buildings designed and constructed with sustainability in mind are better, healthier buildings that save energy, money and resources.
So it’s no surprise that more industries are going green, including one that may not immediately come to mind: the logistics/supply chain portion of the manufacturing sector.
According to a newly released report from the U.S. Green Building Council, “LEED In Motion: Industrial Facilities,” there are more than 1,755 LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified industrial facilities worldwide, totaling more than 496 million square feet (the equivalent of 8,611 football fields), and an additional 2,710 projects registered that total nearly 737 million square feet (or 12,795 fields).
I am proud to say that Murphy Warehouse Co. is among the pioneers at the forefront of the industrial green building revolution that have made sustainability an integral component in our business model.
For manufacturers, LEED-certified buildings support a prosperous business and high-performing workplaces where human health is prioritized and enhanced. The manufacturing sector consumes energy at a much higher level than industries in conventional buildings. Since the sector is responsible for 30 percent of the nation’s total energy consumption and uses an estimated 15,900 million gallons of water per day, a focus on sustainability is absolutely vital for industrial facilities including warehouse and logistics campuses.
Energy- and resource-efficient buildings are good for businesses as they save owners and operators money. As a warehouse and logistics campuses business owner, I place high value on how our operations impact our employees, customers, communities and environment.
Through the pursuit of LEED certification at our four Minnesota logistics campuses, and our commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and be resource-efficient, we have:
•Reduced our water usage by 4 million gallons compared to a 2010 baseline.
•Saved $27,000 in maintenance costs every year by planting native prairies instead of conventional turf lawns. The best part is that these prairies also remove more than 28 metric ton equivalents of carbon from the atmosphere annually — and if you count our planted trees that adds another 134 metric ton equivalents.
•Produced more than 10 percent of our electricity on-site from roof-mounted solar panels.
All that adds up, and allows us to reinvest those savings back into our company, creating jobs and growing our business. Going green makes good fiscal sense for us — and for large-scale manufacturers that spend millions each year on energy costs alone, the savings can be even more extensive.
LEED certification was created to be flexible and meet the needs of all building types. Because building owners face a number of variables — including environmental and climate conditions, worker health and safety codes, and local standards and laws — LEED has developed a mechanism for recognizing those differences while still adhering to the rigorous requirements needed to achieve the desired results.
An engine plant in Michigan, a large-scale bakery in Philadelphia, a brewery in Dublin and a warehouse and logistics company here in Minnesota — all of us are using LEED as a goal-oriented and metrics-driven framework to help meet our business goals.
What’s more, every year buyers are increasingly demanding green products and services. As a logistics and supply chain company, we become partners with other companies in their green efforts. For example, our client partners can report to their stakeholders real metrics derived from our green warehouses and transportation fleet. With 70 percent fewer carbon emissions than the typical warehouse, sustainability is a big part of our brand — and it sells.
Green construction also creates jobs. According to the U.S. Green Building Council’s 2015 Economic Impact Study, green construction is projected to contribute more than $15 billion to Minnesota’s gross domestic product and provide 181,000 jobs to Minnesota workers from 2015 to 2018. Those are big numbers — and we can do even better if policymakers and business owners across Minnesota commit to a more sustainable direction.
It’s time for a new industrial revolution here in Minnesota — one that’s greener and healthier, not only for people and the planet but for the bottom lines of our businesses, too. Our philosophy is that a truly sustainable business must balance the economic and environmental factors. We’re proud to be on the cutting edge, showing that this philosophy works. We hope others will join us on this path to progress — and prosperity.
This article also appears in Finance&Commerce