MINOOKA, ILL. — Grainger is making great strides in becoming a more sustainable company with construction of its own facilities. This is a reflection of the company’s business model in that Grainger’s commitment to sustainability extends to its offerings, as the company brings innovative products and solutions to its customers, helping them with “green” facility management.

In fact, Grainger now boasts 16 LEED certified facilities in the United States, Canada and Mexico, and the company was the first industrial distributor to have LEED certified facilities, which, on average, reduce energy costs by 30%, water usage by 35% to 50%, and overall waste by as much as 90%. 

A template in sustainability

Recently, Grainger, and its approximately 420 Minooka-based employees, opened the doors to its new, 1-million-sq.ft. LEED platinum distribution center, which serves as the company’s new central stocking distribution center and runs a state-of-the-art automated system that helps enable Grainger to deliver products same-day or next-day to its customers nationwide.

“We take great pride in the fact that the Minooka distribution facility is the largest LEED platinum certified facility for Commercial Interiors (LEED-CI) in the world,” said Jeff Rehm, senior manager of Corporate Facilities and Global Sustainability at Grainger. “We want this to be the LEED template in every market.”

Grainger’s dedication to helping its customers get the job done effectively and efficiently were some of the drivers that went into the design process of the Minooka facility. This facility was developed with its customers in mind.

“This is Grainger’s most technologically advanced distribution center, designed to enhance our ability to get customers what they need, when they need it,” said DG Macpherson, senior vice president and group president of Global Supply Chain and International with Grainger.

The facility also uses all high efficiency plumbing fixtures — mostly American Standard — as well as high efficiency water heaters. Plumbing fixtures include electronic dual flush 1.1/1.6 gpf toilets; electronic flush 0.125 gpf urinals; sink faucets that include electronic metering faucets with a flow rate of 0.5 gpm; kitchen stainless steel sinks aerator flow rate 1.5 gpm; and showers with a 1.6 gpm flow rate. In addition, all of the water heaters installed were high efficiency units and had a minimum of 90% AFUE rating.

Approximately 80% of the facility is comprised of a nearly “passive” warehouse where the occupied space is primarily heated from the solar wall, machinery and those occupying the space, and the air is cooled and circulated from large ceiling fans, designed for high-volume industrial use.

Some of the other major green attributes include:

• Energy efficient HVAC system that includes Energy Star equipment.

• R-22-free refrigerant.

• A 2,200-sq.ft. solar wall, which uses innovative air and solar capabilities to help reduce energy consumption.

• Energy efficient lighting along with motion sensors.

• Electric automobile charger stations.

• A recycling program initiated to collect cardboard and shrink wrap from operations. Based off its model recycling program, in 2012, Grainger U.S. distribution centers recycled 303 tons of cardboard and 22 tons of plastic wrap per facility for a total recycling rate of 72%.

Supporting the trades

In celebration of the Minooka Distribution Center grand opening, Grainger awarded nearby Joliet Junior College with a check for $10,000 to benefit scholarships for students pursuing degrees in the industrial trades.

“Grainger chose Minooka for its solid community and strong talent pool,” said Paige Robbins, vice president of North American Supply Chain with Grainger. “We look forward to serving as a member of this community for generations to come.”

Grainger’s support of the community extends to Joliet Junior College and its students. Each year, two Joliet Junior College students have the opportunity to earn financial assistance as part of the Grainger Tools for Tomorrow scholarship program. 

Upon graduation, students receive a customized Westward toolkit, which includes specialized professional tools for the student’s skilled trade area of expertise.

Since 2006, Grainger and the American Association of Community Colleges have worked together to provide students nationwide access to skilled trades jobs and technical education.