General Mills distribution

ATLANTA-New York City-based Rockefeller Group Development Corp. has completed what is said to be the largest LEED Gold-certified industrial building in the US and the second largest LEED-Gold industrial building in the world. The facility is a 1.5-million-square-foot distribution center in Social Circle, Georgia, about 45 minutes outside of Atlanta. It was built for the General Mills Corp. LEED Gold is the second highest designation a new building can receive from the US Green Building Council in Washington, DC. Les Smith, executive vice president for development at the Rockefeller Group Development Group, Corporation, declined to give the cost of the project.

The Rockefeller Group and General Mills originally sought LEED- Silver certification for the distribution center, but the number of credits accrued in five green design categories: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources and indoor environmental quality exceeded the number of credits needed for LEED-Silver, says Smith.

The project went quickly, says Smith. Rockefeller bought the 130 acres for the General Mills building only a year ago, and started construction 11 months ago. The company managed to finish the project in under a year, even though there were three 100-year storms during construction, he says.

In order to meet the stringent deadlines, says Smith, Rockefeller used every conceivable method to expedite construction, such as having an onsite concrete batch plant and two shifts a day of construction.

Among the various attributes that a green building is expected to have is good access to public transportation, which was difficult for the building in Social Circle, says Smith, because, it is in a suburban area, where public transportation is limited. But as long as an applicant gets a certain number of points, it is still possible to achieve LEED-Gold status, he says. While public transportation may be limited at the General Mills site, the facility encourages fuel efficient vehicles by giving their owners reserved parking spots close to the building.

Smith emphasizes that green technology is used throughout the General Mills building, including low-flow plumbing fixtures which, he says, use nearly 50% less water than conventional plumbing; energy-efficient light fixtures, which have occupant sensors, and high-efficiency HVAC systems with roof-mounted, up-blast exhaust fans and wall louvers which control air flow. He says that given the highly energy-efficient ventilation system, the General Mills building has at least 30% more outdoor air coming into the building than a conventional industrial building.

The next green building project that the Rockefeller Group is planning, says Smith, is a large office building in an urban center in the Northeast, which will have a smaller footprint than the General Mills building in Georgia.