Lamb Weston sweet potato factory earns LEED platinum certification

Lamb Weston's Sweet Potato Processing facility in Delhi, Louisiana.

Lamb Weston's Sweet Potato Processing facility in Delhi, Louisiana.

January 21, 2011

ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston's Delhi, La., processing facility received its official Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED(R)) Platinum certification today, awarded by the U. S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

The Delhi facility is the first frozen food manufacturing plant worldwide to earn LEED Platinum certification, the highest distinction available to green buildings. The design, construction and operations at the Delhi processing facility were all developed with environmental impact and sustainability in mind. The plant primarily processes sweet potatoes from Louisiana and the surrounding states--prime sweet potato-growing regions--and was built from the ground up using the newest and best processing and packaging technologies. Operations began in September 2010.

Sweet  potato fries

Sweet potato fries

The state-of-the art equipment featured in the plant was uniquely designed to process sweet potatoes in the most efficient and environmentally responsible way--key for long-term, economic sustainability. The plant will eventually convert fresh sweet potatoes into many different consumer and restaurant products prepared from frozen. Efficient operations mean more efficient use of natural resources within the community, including energy and water. Employees also benefit from the green building design;it is climate-controlled throughout to enhance productivity, safety and comfort.

"We had an opportunity to build something from scratch and set out to build a great sustainable plant because it was right for the business and who we are as a company,"said Rick Martin, vice president for manufacturing at Lamb Weston. "We've been producing quality sweet potato products for the past 10 years, which allowed us to bring the best of what we've learned during this time to the design and construction of the Delhi plant."To earn this distinction as the first LEED Platinum frozen food manufacturing plant in the world reflects the entire project team's hard work and ConAgra Foods' investment in innovation and excellence.

To earn LEED Platinum certification, a building is evaluated by the USGBC on a number of specific criteria: sustainable sites (protecting the environment), water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and the innovation and design process.

Notable features of the Lamb Weston LEED Platinum plant include:

  • The entire plant is climate controlled to increase worker productivity, safety and comfort. Climate control in such a hot, humid environment reduces condensation build up and water on the floors, reducing slip and fall and hazards. Materials, such as low VOC (volatile organic compounds) carpeting, cleaning products and paints, are used in the interior of the plant to reduce occupant exposure to airborne pollutants.
  • Energy-saving equipment is projected to save 40% of the annual energy consumed at a comparable plant. By identifying and recovering potential wasted energy within the building systems and processes, energy demand is greatly reduced.
  • Biogas, produced by treating process waste water, is piped back to the plant boilers to produce steam. This process is expected to offset approximately 20% of the annual natural gas demand of the plant, and prevents methane, a harmful greenhouse gas, from entering the atmosphere.
  • More than 100 acres of the property will be maintained as open space, including protected wetland areas, ponds and restored native vegetation. Water is conserved outside the building by landscaping with native plant species that require no irrigation once established.
  • Priority parking is given to low-emission, fuel efficient vehicles.
ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston's Delhi, La., processing facility (artist impression)

ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston's Delhi, La., processing facility (artist impression)

Project partners included Fisher &Sons Design/Build, a leading design and construction firm with expertise in the food industry based in Burlington, Wash., and Paladino and Company, a Seattle, Wash.,-based sustainability and green building consulting firm at the forefront of the green building movement.
"We are proud to have worked alongside the team at ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston to bring this project from the drawing board to a reality,"said Jerome Fisher, CEO of Fisher Companies. "The Delhi plant was our first project incorporating LEED design and building strategies. We pride ourselves on excellence and look forward to applying the experience and knowledge gained on this project for future projects."

"This LEED Platinum rating is really the icing on the cake for a well-designed sustainable project,"said Patrick Leonard, green building consultant, LEED AP, Paladino and Company. "LEED was used as a back check to validate the sustainable strategies implemented during design and construction. The Platinum rating is the positive outcome of our team's focus on balancing the project's impacts to the planet, employees and the community, and Lamb Weston's bottom line."

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