With the clearly entrenched trend of green, organic, locally sourced food making inroads even in the largest of chain stores, the impact is clear. And yet, there’s a missing piece to this: Where the food is actually made.
Food processing facilities are often quite energy intensive, and for food businesses entering the market, it can be prohibitively expensive to procure a professional facility to prepare you food. Sure, there are emerging models such as Portland’s Kitchen Cru that serve as a community kitchen and culinary incubator, but it’s more geared towards restaurants.
A solution to both is opening in Salem, Oregon shortly. According to Sustainable Business Oregon, a new facility called East Pringle Innovation Center (EPiC) is opening there that will, among other things, derive power from a solar array and use solar hot water collectors for heat. These technologies mean that the facility will be 25% more energy efficient than what state code requires. Beyond that, the rent for tenants is not fixed, but rather, increases gradually as the business grows. This is something I could see helping a lot of businesses (and landlords) have a more doable, durable arrangement that works for all.
The developer, Wildwood, is active in a number of ventures, from a vineyard to biodiesel, and brings with it the know how to create a more sustainable facility, via its custom home building business Woodscape Green.
Sustainable Business Oregon say Wildwood:
…intends to develop the 12 acres where the building sits into the East Pringle Innovation Center, a multi-building campus housing a cluster of companies working in food and beverage processing and making use of local ingredients.
A portion of the city’s funds allocated urban renewal have helped amplify tenant business’s by providing loans for sustainable build outs. This program enabled school lunch provider Organic Fresh Fingers to do an additional $500,000 in improvements to the space.
Given that EPiC sits on 12 acres of land, the group has room to expand its capacity as the market warrants. It’s being treated as an incubator from which tenants that have outgrown the space can move into ones with greater capacity that Wildwood has created.
If the food industry is serious about creating a growing capacity for sustainably produced food, examples such as Wildwood’s are one to pay close attention to.
Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. He creates interest in, conversations about, and business for green (and greening) companies, via social media marketing.