The LEED process involves applying for and receiving points for environmental improvements and innovations undertaken as part of the project. Points are awarded for numerous activities in five environmental categories (sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and indoor environmental) and a special CI category, innovation in design.
This cleanroom project was eventually awarded Gold status, receiving points for its use of recycled and preferred materials, lighting controls and occupancy sensors, and sustainable site benefits.
Recycled and Preferred Materials
More than 77% of all construction waste was recycled. This was not an easy task given that the space had previously been used for storing flammable chemicals and had densely constructed walls, brick, mortar, and special blow-out panels that had to be demolished.
Rather than dispose of the material in a landfill, EMD Millipore sent the bricks and cement to a company that manufactures cement. Steel was sent to a metal-recycling firm, and the gypsum board was also recycled. The construction contractor used a detailed tracking process to show the numbers of tons recycled.
We received another materials-related point by using low VOC-emitting materials in adhesives and sealants, paints and coatings, carpet systems, composite wood and laminate adhesives, and systems furniture and seating.
Lighting Controls/Occupancy Sensors
The project also received points for incorporation of a special system that uses lighting controls and occupancy sensors. Segmenting the large production area into zones and using high efficiency T5-HE resulted in a greater than 35% reduction in connected lighting power density.
The manufacturing step in the Mobius LCA study highlighted energy use in running the HVAC system in the cleanroom as having a significant global warming potential. As a result, we implemented a unique particle counting and air-handling system that reduced the energy use by 69%.
Most cleanrooms operate with a “set it and forget it” air-handling system and use a tremendous amount of energy to run powerful air-handling fans to support air conditioning and heating system through the HEPA filters installed in the ceiling. In most cases, fans run constantly, whether manufacturing is taking place or not.
To improve upon this, we installed particle counters in cleanroom return air walls to constantly test the space. This allows the fans to slow down automatically when the air meets cleanliness standards. On the weekends, or other times when no products are being manufactured, fan speed is reduced, resulting in significantly energy savings.
We were able to recognize a savings of 141,000 kilowatt hours per year, reducing our annual operating cost by $16,000. Since the system cost about $12,000, this initiative delivered a return on investment in less than one year. We are now considering implementing similar systems in our other cleanrooms.
This category awards points for alternative transportation options to and from the facility. The cleanroom facility included onsite bicycle storage, hybrid car parking, and new signage to promote carpooling.
The vacant 30,000 square foot area that has now been transformed into the cleanroom, warehouse space, offices, and associated supporting infrastructure would have been expected to create an approximately 25% increase in energy use for the facility in which it is located. Data shows that through use of LEED initiatives, the increase in energy consumption is only 5%, significantly lower than the anticipated increase.
The LCA’s manufacturing step also highlighted natural gas use for heating the building as a major contributor to the overall global warming potential. As a result of the LEED-enhanced commission process and subsequent building envelope improvements, we have seen a 28% reduction in natural gas used to heat the facility and expect similar savings during months when air conditioning is required.
As an organization, EMD Millipore is committed to protecting the environment and helping secure a more sustainable future. This commitment drives improvements in manufacturing processes, development of new materials for construction and promotes sustained innovation. The improvements made during the development of this new cleanroom, along with other energy saving measures implemented, form the basis for a new company initiative to achieve LEED certification for all future building projects.