In a dedication ceremony April 8, Hilmar Cheese Company, Inc. announced its new Headquarters and Innovation Center in Hilmar, California was awarded LEED® Platinum certification established by the U.S. Green Building Council and verified by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI). LEED is the nation’s preeminent program for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings.
Richard Clauss, chairman of the Hilmar Cheese Company board of directors, opened the dedication explaining, “LEED demonstrates our continuing commitment to stewardship and sustainability. Our owners and employees live here and we strive to do what is right – for our employees, the dairy farmers that supply us milk, the community and our natural resources.”
Core to the new Headquarters is the Innovation Center with the latest pilot plant and food application equipment. The Innovation Center is focused on delivering greater service and knowledge to U.S. and global customers. Food scientists use the newest equipment and technology to help food companies find success incorporating dairy into healthy foods and beverages.
“We appreciate Hilmar Cheese Company’s commitment to California and applaud the company for showing the way with environmentally-friendly construction,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross who helped unveil the award. “This facility is well equipped to compete in a 21st Century that presents the ultimate challenge of feeding a fast growing world population while minimizing our environmental footprint.”
The Headquarters and Innovation Center is the first privately-funded LEED Platinum certified building in Merced County and one of just a few in the Central Valley.
“As far as we know, it is also the first dairy industry LEED Platinum certified building in the United States,” commented David Ahlem, Hilmar Cheese Company Vice President and General Manager - Cheese.
“This award is a testament to the innovative benchmarks being achieved by our businesses right here in Merced County,” Merced County Supervisor Deidre Kelsey said. “Hilmar Cheese Company’s efforts to conserve water, save energy and reduce resource use are also focal points of the Board of Supervisors, and I appreciate them taking the initiative to make Merced County a better place to live, work and do business.”
“Hilmar Cheese Company’s new LEED Platinum certified building displays their commitment to innovation, and I am pleased to see the center bring new technical jobs to the Central Valley,” commented Representative Jeff Denham.
“This is our 30th year in business,” said John Jeter, CEO and President, Hilmar Cheese Company. “We have seen tremendous improvements in technology and we have made the investments to continually improve our ability to conserve, reclaim and recycle. As we designed our headquarters to be efficient, LEED provided a global standard to demonstrate our commitment to a sustainable future.”
The Headquarters and Innovation Center achieved LEED certification for energy use, lighting, water and material use as well as incorporation of a variety of other sustainable strategies. By using less energy and water, LEED certified buildings save money for families, businesses and taxpayers; reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and contribute to a healthier environment for residents, workers and the larger community.
“Hilmar Cheese Company’s LEED certification demonstrates tremendous green building leadership,” said Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO & Founding Chair, U.S. Green Building Council. “The urgency of USGBC’s mission has challenged the industry to move faster and reach further than ever before, and this new Headquarters and Innovation Center serves as a prime example with just how much we can accomplish.”
LEED certification is based on a number of green design and construction features that positively impact the project itself and the broader community. The Headquarters and Innovation Center features:
- Heating, Ventilation, and Air Condition system is a closed-loop water cooling process utilizing one of the food processing water reclamation ponds to save energy.
- Landscaping is irrigated with water reclaimed from food processing
- Water conservation efforts achieves a total water usage level 50% below California-allowed baseline
- Solar energy provides about 25% of overall building energy demand
- Building design that maximizes the use of natural lighting with light fixtures which self-adjust based on daylight and occupant sensors for efficiency
- Electric vehicle charging station, fuel efficient and vanpool parking, and bicycle security racks to reduce transportation energy
Innovation Center features
- Applications Innovation Center with main sensory and presentation area and kitchen, which includes commercial equipment, testing, and sensory tools
- Applications Development Plant, a state-of-the-art pilot plant with ultra high temperature (UHT) processing, Blentech, Groen Cooker, bar extruder and more
- 1/4 mile walking path and patios
- Comfort room for nursing mothers
- 55,000 square feet of space
- Office space for 200 employees