24
SUSTAINABLE CHICAGO Spring 2014
of energy, with more energy coming from solar pho-
tovoltaic arrays erected in the parking lot. Solar ther-
mal installations on the roof should supply all of the
building’s domestic hot water needs.
The structure will feature an 84,000-square-foot
manufacturing area and 66,000 square feet of
warehouse and distribution space. A 7,000-square-
foot office mezzanine will be sited to face south. Dy-
namic shading will manage the building’s energy
input, maximizing daylight in the winter while offer-
ing shade in the summer. Skylights will also harvest
daylight for the factory and warehouse spaces.
The designers knew they wanted to put the roof to
work in some manner, so the building was engineered
to support extra weight. This part of the project is
still in the planning stages, but Method and the de-
sign team are working to install an acre of green-
houses on the roof. In addition to the usual benefits
of added insulation and lowered energy demand that
come from a more typical vegetate roof, this plan
would also create a food supply for the surrounding
community and Chicago area grocery stores.
The factory is also designed to be zero waste.
The people we have running this facility are expe-
rienced in the manufacturing sector and have
worked at zero landfill facilities before,” said Lowry.
In line with their corporate mission, sustainabil-
ity doesn’t stop with the building; it extends to the
factory operations as well. Heat is one of the most
vital aspects of most manufacturing processes, and
this is no different for Method. To reduce the need
for the extra energy that comes with using heat, they
have refined their fabrication process and reformu-
lated their mixes. Advanced manufacturing equip-
ment that is far more efficient from an energy stand-
point will help as well.
The other major impact of manufacturing, espe-
cially for a company that produces liquid soaps, is
water use. “I grew up around Detroit,” Lowry said,
so I’m very concerned with keeping Great Lakes
water in the Great Lakes.” Method has made a com-
mitment to take zero water out of the watershed,
even though they will ship water in their products.
In-house water recycling will help reduce water use,
but the company is also working with the Nature
Conservancy on an innovative program similar to
carbon offsets. Land conservation practices and
other actions that facilitate groundwater recharge
would counteract the removal of any Great Lakes
water that ships out in their products.
Method was founded on the principle of supply-
ing home and health products that are as environ-
mentally and socially responsible as possible. All of
their packaging, for example, is derived from 100%
recycled plastic and their products are certified by
Cradle to Cradle, the product sustainability stan-
dard. They also offer incentives to their suppliers
and distributors to help improve the ecological im-
pact of their supply chain. So it made sense to hold
their first purpose-built U.S. factory to the highest
standards. But it also makes business sense.
Even if it’s not in your social mission as a com-
pany, building sustainability into your operations insu-
lates you from the volatility of commodity cost increase
and disruption of your business that could occur
from things like climate change,” said Lowry. “For us,
it’s a great way to reduce the risk of the business in
long term, but that’s really an ancillary benefit.”