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Sustainability in Bio-Pharm Manufacturing Facilities: Challenging the Assumptions

By Patrick Gallagher

Bio-technology and pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities, sometimes known as cGMP (current Good Manufacturing Practices) Facilities, have long been maligned as energy guzzlers. In many cases these facilities consumptions exceed R&D laboratories, which have been shown to consume at least five times more energy per square foot than office buildings.

By their very nature, GMP facilities seem set up to fail on the sustainability scorecard. The design and engineering of these buildings is often encumbered by the requirements to adhere to strict federal regulations. Controlling energy efficiency while maintaining manufacturing standards is important to building designers and facility managers, however going for industry certifications such as LEED has been considered largely unachievable.

With more lab buildings challenging the sustainability status quo, the tide is turning. Currently, one company is making this a corporate priority, pursuing LEED by tackling the elephants in the room. One of Hereva’s current clients has a 200,000 SF GMP manufacturing facility underway, and is on track to be a leader in the industry and receive LEED certification for the site. The decision to go for LEED is in alignment with corporate goals to be recognized for their contributions to the health and wellness of humanity.

Energy and water consumption have long been sighted as the primary obstacles for these types of facilities from pursuing LEED certification. This company started the sustainability conversation by facing these perceived road blocks head on.  Balancing energy use with the comfort and safety of employees became the target of initial discussions about how to tackle LEED certification.

A detailed initial energy model was created to determine a baseline energy usage. That model was used to help determine where reductions could be made. Achievable measures for reducing lighting power density include individual lighting controls, LED lighting and meeting Energy Star criteria for 90 percent of the non-manufacturing equipment.

The project is also addressing metering, specifically sub-metering of energy and water loads for the building. This helps toward LEED credits, and in the long term pays off in daily operations. Sub-metering helps track energy use and pinpoint use issues which can help identify areas for further reduction, or where zoning of HVAC can be modified.

Typically, the specific requirements for these manufacturing, or any high performing spaces, include outside air changes, fan efficiency, and energy recovery. Addressing the ventilation necessary to meet manufacturing standards requires careful design to be as close to energy neutral as possible. There is a risk “oversizing” the design and the project team must monitor the specifications closely.

For indoor water use reduction, this project seeks to capture all 12 LEED points in this category by reducing indoor water use up to 50 percent. This will be accomplished by utilizing efficient fixtures, and most notably, by capturing, treating and repurposing the RODi (Reverse Osmosis / Deionized) reject water. The byproduct of this highly purified water must be treated, and careful consideration was placed on designing the location of the storage and treatment containers. By placing the units near core facilities and targeting nearby restrooms, the site will be able to utilize the water in flush fixtures.

During construction, the project team is focused heavily on several initiatives. Managing indoor air quality through construction became a top priority. A custom designed outdoor air filtration system and prevalent use of walk-off mats helps to manage construction dust. Additionally, the HVAC buildout has been carefully monitored through site visits, documentation, and regular reporting to ensure a clean system at occupancy.

Management of construction waste is being aggressively addressed on the project. While this practice is not unique to LEED, it is not typical. This project is instating a tracking system utilizing separate dumpsters for each type of waste with, a goal of diverting 75 percent of the waste coming off the project.

Innovation and Design credits are also underway for several Green Energy initiatives. Those include the installation of a Photovoltaic field in a nearby location. This is expected to offset three percent of annual energy use, a notable achievement in a project this size. Additionally, the company is committed to establishing a procurement strategy whereby a percentage of energy is supplied by renewable energy providers. A battery field for energy storage is planned as well.

The company has embraced a sustainable approach to this project, they have hired LEED consultants and the entire project team is committed to finding ways to incorporate sustainable practices into all aspects of the project; from individual lighting controls, to FSC wood products and LEED certified furniture and material purchases. Additionally, there are ongoing initiatives to incorporate sustainable practices into all aspects of building operations.

Success of projects like this will blaze the trail for GMP sustainability to become the rule rather than the exception.

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