Benton Harbor-based Whirlpool makes appliances across all major categories, including fabric care, cooking, refrigeration, dishwashers, countertop appliances, garage organization and water filtration. Courtesy Whirlpool
The first new building constructed on Whirlpool Corp.’s Riverview Campus has earned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design’s Platinum certification, the highest LEED recognition level available.
“Whirlpool has been focused on making a positive impact in our communities since the company was founded more than 100 years ago,” said Lee Utke, senior director of global corporate real estate at Whirlpool Corp. “With this project, we are able to not only honor that commitment, but also remain at the forefront of sustainability efforts within the industry.”
Whirlpool focused on five key areas while developing the new building: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.
The building was originally slated for Gold level certification, but as the project got underway it was clear that it could easily achieve the Platinum status. Platinum requires a building to earn a minimum of 80 points.
“The project had tracked a very high level of points in the Gold level range,” Utke said. “In fact, the building had earned enough points to earn Gold level certification without a single point from the Energy Efficiency Performance rating, where the greatest number of points is available.
“After successful completion of the energy model, as required for documentation of the energy efficiency points, the project was within two points of Platinum certification. To reach the highest level of LEED certification, Whirlpool is utilizing a green power source for 35 percent of the expected annual energy consumption, which allowed the building to earn the two additional points needed.”
All LEED certification levels require projects to include erosion and sedimentation control, interior water use reduction, building commissioning, energy modeling, use of CFC-free refrigerants, recycling programs, minimum ventilation and smoke free environments.
To attain the 80 points needed for Platinum status, Utke said the company focused on alternative transportation modes, landscape design that does not require irrigation, and efforts to improve employee comfort and satisfaction, which included using low volatile organic compound materials and products, daylight and views throughout the open office areas and an occupant survey to verify satisfaction with the space. Additionally, it paid close attention to metering and monitoring of energy loads in order to optimize building operations.
“The new facility will save more than 147,000 gallons of interior water and 16 million British thermal units of energy annually. Ninety-five percent of all demolition and construction waste was diverted from landfills through efforts to recycle and reuse materials, keeping nearly 15,000 tons of construction waste out of landfills,” Whirlpool said in a written statement.
Whirlpool has seven other LEED-certified buildings, which include multiple Silver and Gold warehouses.
The company worked closely with Pizzuti Companies on the Riverview building. Pizzuti is a Columbus, Ohio-based developer with a long history of incorporating sustainable building practices in each of its developments, and Whirlpool has employed its services on previous projects.
Architecture firms Epstein and Arquitectonica collaborated on the project and Pepper Construction served as general contractor.
“We have learned to be better stewards of the environment during the construction process,” Utke said. “Also, that the overall cost of LEED certification has been dramatically reduced now that all participants in the design/construction industry better understand the process — certainly when compared to the benefits gained by incorporating these attributes into the design of the building.”
In addition to focusing on environmental sustainability in its design, Whirlpool also committed to working with local companies on the construction as much as possible.
The company indicated that 90 percent of the project's subcontracts were awarded to Michigan companies, with 75 percent going to southwest Michigan companies and 10 percent to local companies.
Additionally, regional materials extracted and manufactured within 500 miles of the project site totaled more than 56 percent of the total cost of materials.
Whirlpool officials said they intend to continue to seek LEED certification for all new buildings.