Mars Chocolate North America announced yesterday that its new manufacturing facility in Topeka, Kan., has earned LEED Gold certification — an internationally accepted benchmark for designing, constructing and operating green buildings — from the U.S. Green Building Council. The roughly 500,000-sq.-ft. facility, which opened in March, produces M&M’S candies and SNICKERS bars.

“We’re proud that this state-of-the-art site engages cutting-edge environmental standards, setting an example for others to follow,” says Bret Spangler, site director - Topeka, Mars Chocolate North America. “Mars is committed to putting our Principles into Action to drive leadership in sustainability. LEED Gold certification for the Topeka facility is another shining example of our ambitious goal to make our factories and offices ‘Sustainable in a Generation.’”

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback applauded the accomplishment, saying “By working toward, and achieving LEED Gold Status, Mars Topeka continues to demonstrate its commitment to its workers and our community. This is a tremendous achievement and I congratulate them.”

 To meet the precise requirements to become LEED Gold certified, the Topeka site includes several sustainable systems and features, such as: 100 percent renewable electricity, state-of-the art heat recovery systems, rain water harvesting for sewage transfer in the office area and for landscape irrigation, low-flow water fixtures, energy-efficient lighting, reusing and recycling building materials, use of native grasses without irrigation, and the use of low-emitting local and regional materials.

Including the Topeka site, nine of the 10 Mars Chocolate North America factories have achieved ‘zero waste to landfill.’ This target is one of several 2015 global goals outlined in the company’s Principles in Action Summary, which includes a target for the private, family-owned business to eliminate all fossil fuel energy use and greenhouse gas emissions from its direct operations by 2040.

Since 2011, Mars, Incorporated has aimed to achieve LEED Gold certification for all new major buildings globally. Additional sustainability initiatives undertaken by Mars in North America include:

  • The creation of a 200-megawatt wind farm that will generate electricity equivalent to 100 percent of the power for Mars’ U.S. operations, which is comprised of 70 sites, including 37 factories and 25,000 employees.
  • In 2013, Mars Chocolate North America improved its energy intensity by more than seven percent and its water intensity by 9 percent.
  • The Hackettstown, N.J., solar garden provides renewable electricity during peak hours equivalent to approximately 20 percent of the peak consumption at the plant producing M&M’S candies.
  • The solar garden at the Henderson, Nev., Ethel M’s plant supplies 100 percent of the renewable electricity to the plant during peak operating hours.
  • As of year-end 2013, all Wrigley North America sites have reached zero waste to landfill.
  • Wrigley’s Chattanooga facility installed 240 solar panels on the roof, which saves energy and an estimated $17,000 on electricity each year.