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Taco Goes Green with Plant Renovation and Expansion


Cranston, RI-based Taco, Inc. held a LEED certification ceremony on Earth Day at its new facility in Cranston, RI. Special guests who joined Taco employees and Johnny White Jr., president and CEO of the firm, were Rhode Island Governor Don Carcieri and Cranston Mayor Alan Fung.

Taco recently completed a substantial plant renovation and expansion, taking unusual measures to reduce – not increase – the firm's "carbon footprint" in doing so. The company celebrated the accomplishment on Earth Day.

According to White, "The addition of the 60,000 s.f. warehouse facility is a physical representation of our commitment to the city of Cranston, the state of Rhode Island and manufacturing our products in the United States. The new addition also represents Taco's commitment to the community, the environment and our employees as it incorporates a variety of sustainable building practices, many of which are designed and manufactured by Taco – a company that's focused on mechanical and control systems beneficial to a building in its entirety."

"The new warehouse distribution facility, which ties to the headquarters and main manufacturing plant, has greatly enhanced our operational efficiency and positions us favorably for future growth," added White.

The project that won the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification is a 60,000+ s.f. single-story warehouse addition that provides twelve loading dock bays, 30' high clearance for storage racking systems, a quality lab, administrative office space, a demonstration mechanical room for the snow-melt system, and facilities for the manufacturing plant's coolant and metal chip recycling systems. Also included in the project is a gas turbine based cogeneration plant that provides heating and cooling for the entire facility through Taco's own "LoadMatch" system along with a solar panel array to supplement the plant's domestic water requirements.

Sustainable design and construction practices included:

Sustainable site: The urban location is close to public transportation, including three bus lines. Before construction began April 2006, the project site – which once housed a gas station and oil storage facility – was thoroughly decontaminated. Today, storage racks for bicycles is provided near the employee entrance.

Water efficiency: A landscaped area is included as a visual buffer from the street to the loading dock area. Drought-tolerant plants were selected to avoid the need for irrigation systems.

Energy and atmosphere: The new cogeneration plant provides about one-third of Taco's electrical requirements through microturbines that use waste heat from the electricity generation, producing both chilled water and hot water for the HVAC system, greatly reducing energy consumption. Further energy savings are achieved by the use of a Taco "LoadMatch" system and the installation of a solar panel array to supplement the plant's domestic hot water requirements. The snowmelt system in the loading bay area eliminates the use of salt, chemicals, the need for plowing and increases safety.

Materials and resources: Construction materials were chosen to maximize the use of recycled content. During construction, waste materials were sorted into separate dumpsters, with a goal of recycling or salvaging more than 75% of the construction waste.

Indoor air quality: Low VOC construction products and materials were specified to improve the inside environment. Large windows were installed in several areas to maximize the presence of daylight.

Innovation and design: The cogeneration plant and mechanical areas double as training and demonstration areas for Taco's sustainable heating and cooling system products. There is also a climate-controlled vestibule for truck drivers to wait in, reducing air pollution caused by idling engines.