Method Products, maker of eco-friendly household, fabric and personal care products, has opened the doors of its 'South Side Soapbox' factory in the Pullman Park district of Chicago. Designed by architects and sustainable designers, William McDonough + Partners, the Soapbox is the industry’s first LEED-platinum certified factory.
The 150,000 square foot facility includes product manufacturing, bottle production, warehousing and distribution.
Designed to use less energy while functioning with the highest levels of efficiency, half of the facility's annual electrical needs are produced by an on-site refurbished wind turbine and solar energy trees. Renewable energy credit purchase provides the balance for the facility to operate on 100 percent renewable energy in its first two years.
Additional energy conservation features include a 1,520 square foot succulent green roof covering the entry walkway; light-reflecting concrete and rooftop; warehouse and distribution center skylights and a 120 gallon solar powered water heating system.
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The Soapbox will use recycled and local materials whenever possible with at least 20 percent of materials inside the factory originating from within 500 miles of where the Soapbox stands. With a zero-landfill goal, almost everything entering the factory will be used in products, recycled or composted.
Gotham Greens, a leader in urban farming, has partnered with Method to create the world's largest rooftop greenhouse farm at the Soapbox. Designed, built and operated by Gotham Greens, the 75,000 square foot, state-of-the-art greenhouse facility will produce more than one million pounds of fresh, sustainably grown, pesticide-free produce annually for the local Chicago retail and restaurant market.
Method says the Soapbox exemplifies its commitment to positively impact the communities it operates in. The facility will provide nearly 100 sustainable manufacturing jobs for community members by the end of 2015, and has no fence around its 22-acre factory site, providing public access to green space. Three and a half acres of the 22 acre factory site has been developed while the remaining land is being restored as a natural habitat for wildlife. Method also is investing in farm management practices that will recharge water supplies in equal or greater amounts to the quantity of water used in the factory.
Late last year, Method partnered with The Nature Conservancy for a groundwater replenishment project. Method's goal is to protect water in the Great Lakes' watershed and improve water quality throughout the area with this program, which offers incentives to farmers to increase groundwater recharge.