Wrigley’s Is Sweet on LEED: Innovation Center Earns Gold Rating

At the new Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company’s Global Innovation Center in Chicago, food scientists are developing the next generation of minty-green gum. But that’s not the only thing that’s green about the Global Innovation Center (GIC). The building has recently earned Gold-level Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).
The building, which is located on historic Goose Island near Chicago’s North Side, opened in 2005. At that time, the facility already complied with many of the Gold LEED requirements, including a green roof used to help insulate and cool the facility, reduce wasteful run-off water, instituting a major recycling program, and providing facilities to encourage employees to take alternative and public transportation, including showers and locker rooms for bike riders.

Through collaboration with its building manager, Transwestern, the Wrigley company added a number of elements that enabled it to reach the Gold certification. These elements include a sensor network to control lighting and temperature levels based on real-time usage and needs, as well as an irrigation system that uses sensors to keep the grounds watered without wasting resources, according to the company.
But meeting the LEED requirements gives the GIC more than just a shiny green veneer: since installing tighter controls on the building systems, the company has reduced water usage by 40 percent annually over the last two years and reduced its energy use by 10 percent over the past year, according to Wrigley.
Other sustainability efforts at the company include a campaign to reduce water usage. Specific projects include diverting the sugary water (that results from manufacturing of some Wrigley products) into composting systems of local farms, where it acts as a carbon source for the compost process. This is a win-win, since the water is too high in contaminants for released into local municipal treatment facilities. At a manufacturing plant in Australia, the company installed meters to audit its water usage and subsequently reduced its water consumption by 29 percent in the first year, despite a growth in production at the plant.

Freelance writer Mary Catherine O'Connor finds that a growing number of companies are proving the ways that they can make good financially, socially and environmentally (as the triple bottom line theory suggests).With that in mind, she contributes to Triple Pundit, as well as to Earth2Tech and other pubs focused on sustainability. She also writes The Good Route, an Outside Magazine blog that addresses the intersection of sustainability and the active/outdoor life.To find out more, or to reach her, go to www.mcoconnor.com.

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