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Gen Mills Touts Largest LEED Gold Bldg, BofA Nabs Tallest Platinum

General Mills announced this week that its new 1.5 million-square-foot distribution center in Social Circle, Ga., has achieved LEED Gold certification, making it the largest Gold certified building in the U.S., according to the company.

The building makes use of several efficiency technologies. Its high-efficiency lighting system shuts off when no one is in the area, while its holding pond captures rainwater runoff. Located only ten miles from General Mills Covington facility, the close proximity between the two locations helps reduce transportation costs and inefficiencies.

It will also use a centralized computer-based transportation system, which allows the company to deliver products by mapping the multiple destination points of products and load more onto each truck. “The result is more efficient truck loads, more efficient shipments and fewer trucks on the road, which reduces our overall environmental footprint,” said Kevin Schoen, vice president of logistics for General Mills. The system helped save more than seven million gallons of fuel through the third quarter of fiscal 2010 – a 16.7 percent reduction over the previous year, according to the announcement.

According to reports, the company invested $42 million to build the facility.

General Mills’ publicity of its green initiatives has paid off. One recent study indicated that the company was perceived by consumers as being significantly more aggressive on sustainability issues than it actually was. Although the company is exceeding its goal of reducing solid waste production, it remains behind on other goals such as reducing water usage, energy consumption, and greenhouse gas emission (GHG).

Meanwhile, the Bank of America Tower in New York City achieved LEED Platinum certification, making it the first high-rise commercial office building to achieve the highest LEED green building certification. The 55-story, 2.1 million square foot building uses several environmental strategies and technologies to reduce waste and promote environmental sustainability. A glass curtain wall permits maximum sunlight while blocking unwanted heat. An under-floor air delivery system allows for individual control of heating and cooling and provides clean filtered outside air.

Power comes from an on-site 4.6 megawatt cogeneration plant, which works in concert with an ice-storage system to reduce the building’s peak energy demands. The tower will also capture and re-use rainwater and sink water, saving millions of gallons of water each year. A high percentage of the building’s materials come from recycled or local sources located within 500 miles of New York City.

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