Last year I wrote about the green renovation underway at the Mars Chocolate North America corporate headquarters in Hackettstown, New Jersey. At the time the facility celebrated the completion of an 18-acre solar garden, Mars Chocolate expected a LEED Gold certification for its interior renovation. This week they received the official news and the facility became the first private sector LEED for Commercial Interiors Gold certified project in New Jersey.

"The achievement of LEED Gold certification at the Mars Chocolate North America headquarters is a tremendous achievement and a testament to Mars' commitment to the environment and to the communities in which we conduct business," said Todd Lachman, president of Mars Chocolate North America. "This accomplishment joins a host of others that comprise our larger sustainability strategy focused on sourcing, operations and our brands." Source: Mars Chocolate North America

More than 30 green building strategies were used to help Mars Chocolate earn a LEED-CI Gold certification for the 100,000 square-foot office building. Green features include water-conserving fixtures, an upgraded Building Energy Management System that allows the facility to reduce energy use by 15 percent, a highly reflective roof, carpet and ceiling tiles with recycled content, and preferred parking for carpools and vanpools.

Although the interior renovations included energy savings feature, the solar garden also helps Mars Chocolate reduce its dependence on the local grid. The 18-acre ground-based solar garden, which is the largest ground-mounted solar panel system in New Jersey, helps offset power used by the nearby M&M’S manufacturing plant. The 28,000 solar panels in the array are capable of producing up to 2 MW of power during peak hours. This is approximately 20% of the peak energy use at the candy manufacturing facility.

More information about Mars Chocolate’s sustainability program is contained in The Five Principles (PDF). These five principles, quality, responsibility, mutuality, efficiency, and freedom, guide Mars Chocolate North America’s business decisions.

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