The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has awarded LEED Gold Certification to QBP for its distribution center in Ogden, Utah. LEED sets rigorous standards for developing high-performance, environmentally sustainable buildings. In 2007, QBP received LEED Gold Certification for its office and distribution center expansion in Bloomington, MN.

“Like any business, we profit by using the earth’s natural resources,” said Seth Nesselhuf, director of the QBP Advocacy, Community service, and Environment (ACE) program. “By building structures with smaller environmental footprints, we offset some of our impact. Our goal is to provide a positive role model to other businesses, and show that it’s possible to do the right thing and still be profitable and sustainable.”

The 85,000-square-foot facility, which was designed by AE Urbia of Salt Lake City, was completed in 2010. It features geothermal heating and cooling, and meets some energy needs from a 39.5-kilowatt solar panel array. Other environmentally sustainable features include innovative wastewater technologies, high-efficiency appliances and a design utilizing natural light. Additionally, a graded parking lot channels storm runoff into a retention pond; rock gardens promote evaporation and natural breakdown of chemical pollutants; drought-resistant native plants; and an all-concrete parking lot minimizes heat island effect. Beyond the benefits of its smaller environmental footprint, the structure costs significantly less to operate than a conventional building.

“Not only does LEED align with our environmental values, it produces a tangible economic payback,” said Steve Flagg, president of QBP. “At today’s energy rates, the extra cost of the building will pay for itself in less than 15 years. Of course, the cost of energy is going up, so we expect to see a significant return on our investment much sooner.”

QBP also announced that it had completed the installation of a new 40-KW solar array on the roof of its distribution center in Bloomington, MN. Combined with the original array the company installed in 2007, the system will generate up to 75 KW, filling 10% of the facility’s energy needs.

“That’s enough energy to power 24 homes,” said Nesselhuf. “We increased our solar energy capacity because the timing was right, and our experience with the previous array proves it’s a good investment. And enough time has passed that the technology has become more efficient.”

According to tenKsolar, the Minnesota-based technology designer that performed the installation, the new RAIS PV solar panel array harvests light more efficiently, producing up to 60% more energy than conventional solar arrays.

Until recently, prohibitive costs have kept many businesses from investing in solar energy. But all of that is changing, said Flagg.

“The cost of the installation was greatly reduced through a combination of utility, state, and federal incentives, and excellent pricing from tenK. Our ROI will be an incredible five years,” Flagg noted. “Resources are available for companies that want to add clean solar power to their energy mix. We believe this is both a smart and green investment that will ultimately add to our bottom line performance.”

QBP offers eco-tours of its LEED Gold certified distribution center the first Wednesday of every month.