Food processors and distributors tend to be energy gluttons, and all the more so when perishable goods are involved. In addition to operating 24/7, such facilities may generate greenhouse gas emissions and exhaust noxious fumes.

That isn't the case with Testa Produce Inc., a Chicago-based distributor of fresh and frozen fruits, vegetables and appetizers. On the basis of reduced energy consumption, among other sustainable initiatives, Testa's new $24-million, 91,000-sq-ft headquarters and distribution facility is poised to become the first facility of its kind in the nation to gain LEED-Platinum certification.

The facility not only revitalizes a vacant brownfield site but generates 60% savings in utility consumption as a result of onsite renewable energy systems, including 180 photovoltaic solar panels and a new 238-ft-high, 750-kW freestanding wind turbine. The first of its kind in Chicago, the turbine is expected to generate as much power as that consumed by 80 U.S. households.

Elsewhere, roof-mounted solar thermal panels meet 100% of the facility's hot-water requirements while a 5,000-gallon water storage and treatment system provides rainwater for urinals and toilets.

Along with a 45,000-sq-ft barreled vegetated roof, a network of bioswales and a 765,000-gallon retention pond reduce stormwater runoff and improve the quality of the retained water.

During design and construction, each LEED component presented a unique set of challenges. Among other activities, project team members were tasked with addressing the city's concerns about the turbine, particularly its foundation, since no standard design criteria were available for guidance. Plans for rainwater harvesting required separate city reviews to ensure it complied with public health regulations.

Several building materials were derived from local vendors. Others were generated on site, including concrete from existing below-grade foundations. The project team also uncovered pavers from below grade and reused them as decorative borders along sidewalks.

Key Players

Developer/Owner: Testa Produce Inc., Chicago

CM: Summit Design + Build, Chicago

Architect: Epstein, Chicago

Structural Engineer: Structures Unlimited, Crystal Lake, Ill.

M/E/P Engineer: AMS Mechanical Systems Inc., Burr Ridge, Ill.

Submitted by: Summit Design + Build

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