Ecofibre’s state-of-the-art hemp processing facility in Georgetown, Ky., has been granted the first LEED Platinum certification for a warehouse and hemp facility, presented by the U.S. Green Building Council.
Designed by JRA Architects, the facility’s exacting design, build and certification process, which would normally take upward of three years, was completed in 18 months, despite some pandemic-related delays in material deliveries.
“This facility breaks new ground in so many respects, but it’s proof that modern design principles, strong teamwork and a willingness to innovate will always carry the day,” Marty Merkel, associate of JRA Architects, said. “It takes a great team to complete a project like this ahead of schedule, in the midst of a global pandemic.”
Australia-based Ecofibre’s 50,000-square-foot plant is the first of its kind in Kentucky, a state that has embraced hemp production and processing on the heels of its nationwide approval in the 2018 farm bill.
“Kentucky has exceeded our expectations in every respect, from governmental support for economic development to professional experts like JRA and their teammates who guided us through the entire process,” Ecofibre CEO Eric Wang said. “This LEED Platinum facility is a great objective affirmation of our company’s desire to do things the right way economically and environmentally every time.”
According to Ralph Whitley, principal engineer at Shrout Tate Wilson, consulting engineers on the project, Ecofibre prioritized LEED and energy efficiency from the team’s first official conversation in February 2019.
“From day one, Eric was talking about the importance of energy efficiency and sustainability, applying it to every decision, ranging from the selection of JRA’s proposed design to the discussion of adopting solar power to offset the load from hemp-specific needs like clean rooms,” Whitley said. “Ecofibre’s enthusiasm for LEED streamlined the decision-making process and allowed us to leverage our energy modeling capabilities effectively and efficiently.”
LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, an internationally recognized green building certification system providing third-party verification that a building was designed and built sustainably with low environmental impact. In pursuit of that certification, the Ecofibre facility’s design incorporates a wide array of resource-efficient technologies, ranging from solar panels and nearly 70 light-channeling solar tubes to geothermal and water capture for flushing in the bathrooms. A rigorous building commissioning process led by Paladin Inc. served to further improve efficiency.
Ecofibre, which operates Hemp Black, is a provider of hemp products in the United States and Australia, where it owns or controls key parts of the value chain in each business, from breeding, growing and production to sales and marketing. The company is developing hemp-based products in textiles and composite materials In the U.S., and produces nutraceutical products for human and pet consumption, as well as topical creams and salves.