A 150,000-square-foot building in the Hanover area has become the first LEED Gold-certified elevator manufacturing plant in North America.
Schindler Elevator Corp. did it thanks to a solar power system, a "zero discharge" water system, two electric-car-charging stations and several other energy-efficient features.
"We are very excited to be opening this new factory in South Central Pennsylvania where we have had a manufacturing presence for many years," said Jakob Zueger, CEO of Schindler Americas, said in a news release. "We help our customers achieve their green building and sustainability goals in projects around the world every day, but this facility is another example of how Schindler is truly embracing sustainability in our own business as well."
With LEED certification, which stands for leadership in energy and environmental design, comes not only national recognition but also cost savings, said Jacob Kriss, media associate with the U.S. Green Building Council, which presented a plaque certifying the building's status at the facility's formal ribbon-cutting.
"The savings come from taking a long-term-thinking approach," he said. "It doesn't have to be any more expensive than a normal building project, and one can achieve LEED certification for what it would cost otherwise. Usually you recoup your costs within one to three years, but every LEED project is different."
Green building is a growing industry. The building council started with 19 pilot projects in 2000. At the end of 2013, it certified its 20,000th project, Kriss said. And he cited a study from McGraw Hill Construction that projects the industry will be worth $248 billion by 2016.
Schindler's 152,262-square-foot building ?on Industrial Drive in Penn Township was completed in December; the 23-acre site was purchased in August 2012. The facility, which will employ about 60, will make elevator components such as doors, entrances and cab interiors, according to a news release from Schindler. It also contains the company's order consolidation center, which is a warehouse designed to speed up delivery times for products and parts.
The building is one of 237 LEED Gold-certified projects in Pennsylvania, Kriss said. To achieve basic LEED certification, a building project has to meet a minimum number of environmental and health standards. Beyond that, the project can go after certain additional credits that increase the prestige of the certification.
For example, Schindler pursued credits in sustainable site development, water conservation, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality, the company said.
Specifically, the facility will have photovoltaic solar panels that will generate 1.5 million watts of renewable energy. That's about half the building's total power consumption. It also will use energy-efficient T5 fluorescent lights.
Also, the "zero discharge" water system means it will treat and reuse all wastewater on-site. No water will be discharged into the township sewer system.
The parking lot is designed to reflect heat instead of absorbing it, reducing what is known as the heat island effect, which is when the developed area is warmer than adjacent undeveloped areas. The lot also will have charging stations for two electric cars. The facility has a Chevy Volt, an electric car that can travel about 900 miles between fill-ups, the company said.
Schindler Elevator Corp. isn’t the first LEED-certified building in the Hanover area. Neighboring Hanover Public School District was among early certification pioneers when it built Clearview Elementary School in 2003.
The school, which received LEED Gold certification in 2004, was projected to save the district an estimated $18,000 annually in energy costs, according to the U.S. Green Building Council. Water use was projected to be about 30 percent less than at comparable facilities. In fact, one of its most touted features when it first opened was its waterless urinals.
District Business Manager Troy said the power and water bills are lower than one would expect for such a building. And the materials, which were sourced from within a 500-mile radius to reduce the greenhouse gases caused in transportation, have held up well in the decade since construction.
But he was hesitant to compare the school to Schindler’s new building.
“The green technology has certainly improved,” he said. “I’m sure the Schindler building’s technology is different than what we were dealing with 10 or 12 years ago.”