When shoe manufacturer Skechers merged five of its distribution facilities into one giant LEED-certified Southern California structure in late 2011, it was clearly a big deal. Recently, the extent of the this big deal was made official by the U.S. Green Building Council when it declared the new facility in Rancho Belago, Calif., the largest building in the United States to achieve a LEED certification.
At 1.82 million square feet, the Skechers North American distribution facility stretches across an 88-acre site in the Moreno Valley area, but still manages to tread relatively lightly on the environment. With its LEED Gold certification, the distribution hub includes several systems that generate renewable energy, limit electricity usage, reduce water consumption, and limit emissions and other forms of pollution.
At the end of last year, the Skechers facility earned 41 points from the LEED scorecard for commercial buildings, which was enough to secure a Gold certification. One of the key features that helped win that designation was to 280,000-square-foot solar power array mounted atop the building’s massive roof. To keep electrical costs low, the facility has installed motion sensors on most of its lighting systems, ensuring that energy is used only when needed.
The roof, as well as the paved surfaces on the site, is also painted in light colors to help reflect sunlight and maintain comfortable temperatures inside the building. The HVAC system in the warehouse emphasizes natural ventilation by drawing in outside air from louvers that are situated to take advantage of the prevailing winds in the region.
For the landscaping around the Skechers campus, drought-tolerant vegetation was planted to fit with the semi-arid climate, resulting in a reduction in irrigation use by 50 percent, compared to a conventional facility of similar size. About 90 percent of what little rain does fall in the area is also captured and treated on the site before it can leach into the ground as runoff.
During construction, work crews recycled most of the waste generated, used recycled materials whenever possible and sourced them all from within 500 miles of the site. All paints, coatings, glues and sealants also complied with LEED standards for low VOC emissions.
The warehouse operations at the center can process 18,000 to 20,000 pairs of shoes per hour, or up to 100 million pairs annually, the company said. Along with the distribution services, the facility also includes 20,000 square feet of office space and a Skechers retail store.
“This state-of-the-art, automated facility will allow us to efficiently grow our business with reduced impact to the environment,” said David Weinberg, the company’s COO and CFO. “We’re proud of the design innovation and green features that can be found throughout the facility.”