Spicing Up Shearer's Foods

“The first and most important part of a LEED project, or any project, is having a strong team working to achieve the goal. We were lucky to work on a project where the owner, Shearer’s Foods, was dedicated to achieve a Gold-level LEED certification,” said Richard W. Linke Jr., designer for State Electrical Engineering Co., the engineering division and a wholly owned subsidiary of Hilscher-Clarke Electric Co., Canton, Ohio.

However, the team surpassed the golden goal. Shearer’s Massillon, Ohio, plant is the first snack facility in the United States to receive LEED Platinum certification.

Guidelines of the January 2009 Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating system, developed and administered by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), covers Shearer’s certification. It falls under guidelines instituted for industrial manufacturing facilities that factor in both processing and building energy in the calculation of baselines and required energy reductions. Those guidelines expanded on original LEED outlines, which the USGBC developed to define sustainable practices in libraries, offices and other commercial buildings.

Despite the expense of going for LEED, which can add up to 14 percent to a base price, Shearer’s Foods was all for it. The company had outgrown its 180,000-square-foot operation on 10 acres in Brewster, Ohio, where it produced a full line of potato chips, kettle chips, tortilla chips and extruded snacks. The new facility construction on 34 acres of industrial park in Massillon began in July 2009 and finished in March 2010.

Garnering the LEED Platinum certification called for a host of calculations and creative thinking by the design team, which included the general contractor (GC), Schumacher Construction Co.; John Patrick Picard Architect Inc.; and Hilscher-Clarke Electric Co.’s State Electrical Engineering. For the construction phase, Hilscher-Clarke Electric successfully bid and was selected as the electrical contractor on the project. To avoid conflict of interest, since being part of the design team on bid projects requires that Hilscher-Clarke’s engineering division maintain a separation from its construction division, the engineering division was not involved with the final selection of the electrical contractor; instead, the GC and the architect handled it.

The team’s main challenge in gaining LEED certification for the food-manufacturing site is that LEED standards require significant reductions in heat and water use. However, the team faced another challenge in that the production process—fryers, ovens and packaging equipment—consumes more than 80 percent of the energy. Shearer’s Foods chose to be proactive in accomplishing that difficult task. The company performed an analysis of energy use at its Brewster facility and then commissioned the manufacture of an infrared, industry-size oven burner for the tortilla chip production line that uses 47 percent less natural gas. Shearer’s also brought in Professional Supply Inc. (PSI), Fremont, Ohio, as mechanical engineers to design a system in which the wasted heat of the processing equipment could be used to both heat the facility and water for boiling food products, which resulted in another reduction of gas and electricity use.

Those measures gave the design team a jumpstart for reducing the energy use. For its part of the effort, Hilscher-Clarke’s State Engineering was assigned to try to attain the following seven LEED credits with the hopes that it could procure nine points for the project:

• Sustainable Sites, Credit 8, Light Pollution
• Indoor Environmental Quality, Credit 8.1, Daylight & Views
• Indoor Environmental Air Quality, Credit 6.1, Controllability of Systems—Lighting
• Energy and Atmosphere, Prerequisite 2, Minimum Energy Performance
• Energy and Atmosphere, Credit 1, Optimized Energy Performance
• Energy and Atmosphere, Credit 2, On-Site Renewable Energy
• Energy and Atmosphere, Credit 5, Measurement and Verification

Some credits are worth one point, but some credits have subsets, making them worth more. State achieved six of the credits using off-the-shelf products, software and know-how.

“The design/build team’s goal for the project was to achieve a minimum of 45 points for a LEED Gold certification, but as we planned, we realized we only needed a few additional points for mechanical, HVAC, plus the electrical to put Shearer’s into the Platinum range,” Linke said.

One of the credits—Sustainable Sites, Light Pollution—related to exterior lighting with an emphasis on minimizing light trespass, sky glow and glare, and impact on nocturnal environments.
“Accomplishing this credit was simple ... based on the site selection and by strategic placement of exterior light fixtures,” Linke said. “We specified full-cutoff light fixtures to comply with the zero light above 90-degree nadir. Also, with the use of our photometric software, we were able to determine exact locations of the exterior light fixtures to avoid light trespass.”

Obtaining Credit 1, Optimized Energy Performance, called for State to evaluate and reduce the amount of energy consumed and increase levels of energy performance.

“On the electrical portion, it was difficult to reduce the energy Shearer’s uses in their process, so we looked at lighting,” Linke said. “The challenge was we had to design for the equipment that was going in the building, the production lines. Shearer’s plan was to initially install a tortilla chip production line and to later install a second production line, so the location of the equipment of both product lines had to be considered in terms of the lighting plan. We had to make sure we weren’t going to put a light fixture above where one of the new lines was going to be, above the bagging equipment or over the top of a machine. We wanted to make sure fixtures could be changed without causing any problems. It took us awhile, working with Shearer’s and the architect, to determine where they needed everything to go,” he said.
In gaining this credit, State scored with its lamp choice.

“We chose to use T5HO lamps rather than the traditional 400-watt metal halide ones usually used in production facilities, and when we ran the photometrics in-house, we met or exceeded what IESNA [Illumination Engineering Society of North America] recommends for the facility and got the same or better light output but used less energy. The plan also enabled us to exceed the requirements of ASHRAE 90.1 (2007) by 42 percent and helped the team achieve six points in the category,” Linke said.

The architectural design also was a factor, and architect John Patrick Picard contributed in three ways.

“It’s a LEED requirement to bring as much natural daylighting into a building as possible and to ensure that folks in production are able to see out a window to the horizon, even in the restrooms or some other small interior spaces,” Picard said.

In line with that, his design allowed for abundant daylight. It called for a high bank of windows on all sides of the building that would allow natural daylight to flow into the space from above. In addition, 54 5-by-5-by-5-foot skylights would push light down into the space, and a lower bank of windows would provide views for those working in the production area.

“The natural light comes in and bounces around on the bright white interior surfaces and on the stainless-steel equipment and lights up the entire plant,” Picard said.

State performed an analysis of the architects’ design to verify the amount of daylight contribution within the building using Lighting Analysts AGi32 computer software.

“We determined that additional energy could be conserved with a daylight-harvesting system,” Linke said (that contributed to another of the credits: Credit 8.1, Daylight & Views).

“State and Hilscher-Clarke did a phenomenal job of engineering and installing the system for us,” Picard said. “Basically on an overcast day, there’s enough light to turn down or off the lights.”

While State wasn’t optimistic regarding the credit Indoor Environmental Air Quality, Credit 6.1, Controllability of Systems—Lighting, which is implemented by individual lighting controls and multioccupant lighting system controls, the company was ultimately successful in achieving it.

“It is a requirement of ASHRAE that any building over 2,000 square feet have an automatic lighting control system, and controllability of the lighting system was at first thought to be unobtainable in a manufacturing facility based on previously submitted Credit Interpretation Rulings, which are questions proposed to the Green Building Council/LEED during the design phase to determine if a design meets the intent of the credit,” Linke said. “In an attempt to achieve Platinum certification, we obtained this credit by strategically locating low-voltage light switches in the group-occupied spaces where the majority of employees could have access to lighting controls.”

Another credit—Minimum Energy Performance—was a prerequisite with an aim to establish a minimum level of energy efficiency for the building system. It meant State’s design had to be compliant with the ASHRAE 90.1 (2007) energy code.

“The bulk of the energy calculations as pertaining to ASHRAE 90.1 2007 is the watts-per-square-foot of lighting,” Linke said. “The use of T5HOs in conjunction with a daylight harvesting system is what contributed to our success in reducing additional energy consumption.”

During the construction phase, Hilscher-Clarke Electric installed occupancy controls, manual-override switches, and low-voltage override switches for the entire facility.

“With lighting controls, you not only use the system but also control it,” said Tony Fay, project manager, Hilscher-Clarke Electric. “While other companies might just turn lights off or on, we turn it to one-half or one-third. We control the product.”

To gain the Measurement and Verification credit, which called for providing a plan to check the building’s energy consumption, State’s design included a metering package in the main distribution panel that monitored all the loads in the facility.

During the construction phase, Hilscher-Clarke Electric installed a web-based advanced metering system—WinPM.net 4.0—to measure electricity being consumed. Loads were divided between the packaging equipment, the tortilla production line, the lighting and the mechanical HVAC systems.

“The challenge was to coordinate the set-up and start-up of the metering for the entire facility to make sure it was wired correctly,” Fay said. “Our biggest challenge was centrally locating subdistribution panels to maintain separation of lighting, HVAC and process equipment loads.”

The crew also faced challenges related to particular requirements for the building.

“A food facility has to be capable of being washed down. We had to have special fixtures that could handle that, and we had to seal everything and space it so it could be washed down. While in a steel mill, you’d use galvanized Unistrut or angle wire, in a process facility, you have to use stainless-steel conduit. We had to pick the right off-the-shelf products for the facility,” Fay said.

State opted out of pursuing its last assigned credit—Energy and Atmosphere, Credit 2, On-Site Renewable Energy.

“We looked at renewable energy for the facility and the starting point for LEED was 2–3 percent of total energy consumed. It would have cost the owner millions to put in a solar or wind system. Since none of the renewable-energy alternatives was suited to typical Ohio weather, and since the facility would consume a large quantity of power, the team realized it wasn’t cost-effective for the facility,” Linke said.

State spent an unusual amount of time on-site during the construction phase.

“For the most part, we had a lot of participation, not in construction management, but in making ourselves available for the contractors, so whenever they had questions, we could answer them right away. We were out in the field working with Hilscher-Clarke for the metering installation. Normally we wouldn’t be out on a project site to deal with that,” Linke said.

Linke said part of the reason they were there was because it is a LEED requirement to supervise the project to ensure everything is installed correctly. The other part of the reason was State’s company motto, which directs it to ensure projects are completed properly; therefore, State took a more hands-on approach.

Shearer’s is proud of its new facility and of being the first processing plant to garner LEED Platinum certification. And Hilscher-Clarke is proud of having been part of the team.

“We are very fortunate to have a growing and well-respected company like Shearer’s in our community. Their commitment to our community’s environmental sustainability has been captured throughout this project.” said Ronald Becker, CEO, Hilscher-Clarke Electric.

CASEY, author of “Kids Inventing! A Handbook for Young Inventors” and “Women Invent! Two Centuries of Discoveries that have Changed Our World,” can be reached at scbooks@aol.com and www.susancaseybooks.com.

About the Author

Susan Casey

Freelance Writer
Susan Casey, author of "Women Heroes of the American Revolution," "Kids Inventing! A Handbook for Young Inventors," and "Women Invent! Two Centuries of Discoveries that have Changed Our World," can be reached at scbooks@aol.com or www.susancaseybooks...

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