Upon completion, Toyota’s Plano solar photovoltaic system will provide a quarter of the power needed for the new campus and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 7,122 metric tons.
According to the automaker, this will be the largest corporate office on-site solar installation among non-utility companies in the state of Texas.
“The Plano solar system will not only reduce our environmental footprint and educate team members about renewable energy, it moves us closer to Toyota’s 2050 global environmental challenge to eliminate carbon emissions in all operations,” said Kevin Butt, Toyota’s North American environmental division regional director.
Butt told Environmental Leader that the system will be provided through a lease arrangement. He won’t say how much the solar array will cost, but says that Toyota “expects costs to be competitive with the cost of power purchased from the grid.”
Plans call for the system to be completed in phases. Phase one will cover two parking structures, about 2.45 megawatts per garage, and come online by August 2017. The final installation, located on a third parking structure, is slated for December 2017 and will produce about 2.83 megawatts.
Toyota is seeking LEED Platinum certification — the US Green Building Council’s highest level — of the new campus.
“The new headquarter campus will be a model for sustainability and each element will serve a purpose,” Butt said. Other green building features will include:
- Everything from LED lights, to solar panels, to high-efficiency building shells will help cut down on the amount of energy used on campus. “Multiple rooftops will feature specially designed roofs teeming with plant life to help manage rainwater, reduce heat and further insulate the buildings,” Butt said.
- Toyota chose interior finishes and building materials that minimize interior volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
- Exterior landscaping will reflect the native North Texas habitat with savannah, oaklands and wildflower meadows. “Beyond providing team members a beautiful place to meet or take a lunch break, these areas will provide various species — like endangered pollinators and monarch butterflies — with a natural habitat,” Butt said. Additionally, Toyota will retain and preserve a wetlands area in the northeast corner of the campus.
“Once all that native flora and fauna is established, there won’t be any need for expensive mowing, fertilizers, chemicals or even artificial irrigation,” Butt said. “In fact, only select activity-based areas will require watering, and even that will come through a state-of-the art rainwater capture system. Drain water from sinks and showers will also be used for flushing toilets in bathrooms of several buildings. These innovations will generate lessons we can apply to our other facilities, even figuring out how to retrofit older buildings to be more sustainable.”
Toyota has several other solar installations in the US, including at its North American parts center in Ontario, California. At the time of completion in 2008, the 2.3-megawatt system was the second largest single-rooftop solar array in North America.
The company also has installed solar PV at its south campus headquarters building in Torrance, California, a manufacturing plant in Mississippi and an Alabama engine factory.
Toyota isn’t the only automaker planning to give its new headquarters a sustainable makeover.
In April, Ford announced plans to transform its 60-plus-year-old Dearborn campus into a high-tech, high-efficiency headquarters. The $1.2 billion campus includes buildings that will reduce water and energy use by 50 percent, driverless cars and eBikes to transport employees, onsite gardens to grow food and composting toilets, among many, many other technology-enabled and sustainable features.
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