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Testa Produce Turns A Brighter Shade of Green

CHICAGO (April 7, 2010)—With a new state-of-the-art distribution center under construction, Testa Produce is on its way to becoming the first U.S. food distributor to operate in a facility certified as LEED Platinum by the U.S. Green Building Council. World-wide, more than 5,000 sites are now LEED-certified, but only some 5 percent of those have achieved the highest possible Platinum rating.

Testa’s new headquarters, on nearly 13 acres of long-vacant land in the Chicago Stockyards Industrial Corridor, features the most advanced sustainable technologies and is designed both for future expansion and additional “green” updates as new technologies emerge. Cost of the 91,000-square-foot project is pegged at $20 million, 20 percent higher and with a longer return on investment timeframe than had Testa chosen a less environmentally friendly design.

For Peter Testa, President, cost wasn’t the issue. “When we committed to building a new distribution center, we had the same basic objectives as every other growing distribution firm out there: more space and greater efficiencies to enhance service and continue to grow,” he said. “But we also committed from the start to raising the bar on sustainability in our industry, which has a fairly large carbon footprint. We’ve always been a green-focused company and this project raises that existing culture to a whole new level.”

Among the building’s sustainable features are an approximately 245-foot wind turbine and solar panels that will generate half of its required power. A partially vegetated roof will help prevent storm-water runoff and will slope down to form a striking green wall through which employees and visitors pass to enter the building. An external retention pond plus internal filtered cistern system will capture and recycle rainwater for non-potable uses, and permeable pavers on walks and in parking areas will drain into live wetlands. Landscaping features native plant species and is designed to require minimal irrigation. Solar collectors will heat water used for all showers, sinks and sanitation, and skylights will provide natural ambient light.

Testa’s delivery fleet has been converted to biodiesel, company cars are fuel-efficient hybrids and parking areas include reserved spots closest to the entrance for hybrids. Electrical ports for plug-in cars are ready to be installed as that technology advances.

“Financially, we could have saved a lot by taking a less sustainable path,” said Len Moskowitz, Testa’s CFO and Vice President-Finance. “But Peter had a clear vision of what he wanted. In many areas, we’ve gone above and beyond what’s required for LEED Platinum certification but we’re focused on maximizing long-term savings and minimizing environmental impact. Our entire organization is excited and proud to be leading the industry in this regard.” Testa expects to move into its new distribution center in December.

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