On September 19, 2007, Oregon based Kettle Foods was awarded the Gold level of certification for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), an award granted from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with the goal of building a “community of leaders working to make green buildings accessible to everyone within a generation.” [“USGBC,” Ulloa]. The factory is the first and only food of its kind in the United States to receive the Gold level award [“Food Processing”]. Kettle was developed in 1978 and has since produced a successful line of more than 20 flavors of chips, as well as nut butters and trail mixes [Ulloa]. The award was given for Kettle Food’s new factory in Beloit, Wisconsin. Out of the more than 2,000 applications for LEED certification, there have only been about 300 buildings that have received the award [“How Green Are We”].
The company has chosen to make sustainability one of its core values and applies the concept to almost everything it does. “Investing in green building was a conscious decision on our part to demonstrate our values in a very tangible way,” stated Kettle Foods president Tim Fallon [Ulloa]. The Beloit plant is their second major production facility.
*from Kettle Foods Beloit Plant Grand Opening -Media Handout
The plant incorporates environmentally friendly production methods in almost every area of the plant. Some of the environmentally friendly features of the plant are: 18 wind turbines that produce enough energy to make 56,000 bags of chips per year, offsetting 100% of electricity use with wind power, converting cooking oil to biodiesel, which is then used by company vehicles and using natural light and outdoor views in all work areas [Ulloa]. Kettle foods is attempting to set new standards for sustainable methods of production and their placement in Beloit, Wisconsin is fitting with city’s goals of being an environmentally friendly community [City Council].
Regarding the Kettle plant opening and the initiatives of the City of Beloit, City Manager Larry Arft stated, "An important part of what we're doing here with economic development is job creation, and creating a good, solid, diversified economic base for this city that will have sustainable jobs and produce sustainable economic growth for this community." [Channel 3000].
At Kettle’s home plant in Salem, Oregon they have also shown a long time dedication to sustainability. Kettle produces on average 130,000 kilowatt-hours worth of solar energy, each year, in addition to showing strong ties to local community efforts and restoring wildlife land on its property. Their solar array is one of the largest in Oregon and recently nesting Blue Herons have been seen on their wildlife property [Leute]. Although it costs more to have environmentally friendly initiatives, companies like Kettle and others who build this way hope that there will be savings in the long run. According to Jim Green the Community Ambassador for Kettle Foods, it is well worth taking the time to invest in environmentally friendly technologies. “We’re estimating saving $200,000 a year from the efficiency of the building,” said Green [Vollbrecht].
Similar companies in the industry are beginning to build green in realization of the benefits. Whole Foods, the national organic grocer has dedicated itself to use “green building innovations” whenever it can incorporate the technology in its stores. Currently Whole Food’s has two stores, which meet LEED standards, the first environmentally friendly supermarkets in the country [“How Green Are We”]. Similarly, Whole Foods is beginning to use biodiesel in their fleet vehicles, much like Kettle [“How Green Are We”]. In Beloit, companies like Kerry and Frito-Lay are beginning to investigate green technology, although a Frito-Lay representative stated in a 2007 Beloit Daily News article that the company sometimes will lose money on green projects. Representatives from Kettle responded stating that their primary concern was helping the environment and they expected monetary savings to follow [Scott]. Since 1999, Frito-Lay has been able to reduce their fuel and electricity uses by 24% and 21% respectively and plans to work with the EPA to continue to reduce these levels [Scott].
City Of Beloit. City of Beloit, Wisconsin. City Council. Resolution Adopting Eco-Municipalities Sustainability Guidelines. 17 Dec. 2007. 21 Mar. 2008 <*http://www.ci.beloit.wi.us/index.asp?Type=B_LIST&SEC=%7B93F0C20D-1D1B-4691-B5AF-6AFAE41BEB2E%7D*>.
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Ulloa, Katy. KETTLE CHIPS TAKES HOME THE GOLD WITH NEW GREEN POTATO CHIP FACTORY. Maxwell PR. Salem, Oregon: Maxwell PR, 2007. 20 Mar. 2008 <*http://www.choosegreaterbeloit.com/documents/bus_environment/kettlegrandopening.pdf*>.
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Vollbrecht, Lynn. "Area Businesses are Doing the Green Thing." Community Shoppers. 2007. CSI Publications. 7 Mar. 2008 <*http://www.communityshoppers.com/archivesn22.html*>.