Method, the innovation-minded cleaning products purveyor that has forever altered the way consumers look at — and smell — dryer sheets, hand soap, and other items that live under or next to our sinks and washing machines, is bringing its manufacturing operations home with the unveiling of a mighty impressive production facility due to open early next year in Chicago.
Needless to say, the facility — it will include manufacturing and bottling operations and serve as a distribution center for both San Francisco-based Method and sister company/owner, Belgium-based Ecover — goes above and beyond in terms of sustainability. In fact, the company plans for its first U.S. manufacturing facility to also be the first ever LEED Platinum certified manufacturing plant in the consumer packaged goods industry. Powered by a refurbished wind turbine along with solar arrays that will provide the facility with an estimated half of its annual electricity needs, the William McDonough + Partners-designed complex will be a functional showcase of sustainable design elements and Cradle to Cradle-certified building materials, which, considering William McDonough’s involvement, is a given. Method’s range of plant-based, aesthetically inoffensive “countertop accessories” are also C2C certified.
But what strikes me most about the project is how Method plans to interact with its new neighbors in the Pullman neighborhood, a historic hub for industry and manufacturing on Chicago’s South Side. The 150,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility will not only be a local green job creator — Method will recruit a sizable amount of new hires from the Pullman community — but also a source of hyper-local food production. Yes, food production at a cleaning product factory as a series of community-benefiting greenhouses dedicated to urban agriculture will be built atop the roof of the manufacturing plant.
The Pullman complex itself isn't tiny at 22 acres. However, only 5 of those acres will actually be developed. As for the rest, it will be converted into green space:
A sidewalk will be built around the facility, instead of a fence, and only native trees and perennials will be planted throughout the area using non-irrigated, sustainable landscaping. The tree selection for planting is based off the natural pre-settlement oak-hickory savannah that once inhabited the Pullman area and will provide array of brilliant fall color. Method is looking into using some of the land for a community garden as part of its local integration efforts.
Method’s new manufacturing home is a clean home — using clean energy, water and materials to create innovative household products. The manifestation of ‘industrial hygiene’ at this scale is beneficial to communities; it provides healthy jobs and is embodied by a facility that is a delightful neighbor. Entrepreneurial companies like Method are modeling a new, clean industrial model for our country.
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