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How green are the ‘green factories’?

Making the factories environmentally friendly or eco-friendly is becoming more and more important worldwide as day by day the planet is turning out to be more vulnerable for its inhabitants. Every year unhealthy environment is killing millions of people worldwide. Environmental risks now contribute to more than 100 of the world’s most dangerous diseases and injuries, and kill 12.6 million people a year – nearly one in four or 23% of all deaths, according to a new World Health Organization (WHO) study.  In this situation eco-friendly industry is must and already green factory concept be prompted. U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) developed a certification process called Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) to evaluate environmental performance of a building and encourage market transformation towards sustainable design. Already Bangladesh has 32 LEED certified green factories in which three are the world’s top environment-friendly garment and textile factories. LEED certified top factories like Envoy Textiles, Remi Holdings and Plummy Fashions have taken the garment and textile factories of Bangladesh to new heights.

Green factory rating system

Green factories should be as green as its surrounding natural villages.
Figure: Green factories should be as green as its surrounding natural villages.

However as LEED is a certification system and it has its own scope of coverage, we need to know what really a Green factory (Certified by LEED) means. Meanwhile green factory issue is now talk of the town and getting all mainstream media coverage. But a few of us know about the details parameters to get LEED certification. How does the LEED rating system certify the factory? How much does it be effective to make a factory green?  Is there any gap or anything could be included to this process? To know this we should take a view to the LEED certification procedure.

As per its certified USGBC, LEED is the most widely used third-party verification for green buildings, with around 1.85 million square feet being certified daily. LEED works for all buildings—from homes to corporate headquarters—at all phases of development. Projects pursuing LEED certification earn points across several areas that address sustainability issues. Based on the number of points achieved, a project receives one of four LEED rating levels called LEED v.4.  LEED v.4 four levels of certification are (1) Certified 40-49 points, (2) Silver: 50-59 points, (3) Gold: 60-79 points and (4) Platinum: 80 points and above. According to USGBC, so far, a total of 79,600 projects in 161 countries have received LEED certificates.

To be LEED certified one building or factory is to meet The Minimum Program Requirements (MPRs).  MRPs are the least amount characteristics or conditions that make a project appropriate to pursue LEED certification. These requirements are foundational to all LEED projects and define the types of buildings, spaces, and neighborhoods that the LEED rating system is designed to evaluate.

An LEED certificate requires factories to meet its nine requirements where each chunk has separate points.

  1. Integrative Process (IP), contains 1 point.
  2. Location and Transportation (LT), contains 16 point.
  3. Sustainable Sites (SS), contains 10 point.
  4. Water Efficiency (WE), contains 11 point.
  5. Energy and Atmosphere (EA), contains 33 point.
  6. Materials and Resources(MR), contains 13 point.
  7. Indoor Environment Quality (IEQ), contains 16 point.
  8. Innovation in Design (ID), contains 6 point.
  9. Priority (RP), contains 4 point.

The points cover the entire building process including everything from site selection all the way through building occupancy and are broken into 7 base categories and 2 bonus categories.

Green Building Design and Construction LEED v4 New Construction and Major Renovation  


100 Base Points

1. Integrative Process (IP) 1
2. Location and Transportation (LT) 16
3. Sustainable Sites (SS) 10
4. Water Efficiency (WE) 11
5. Energy and Atmosphere (EA) 33
6. Materials and Resources(MR) 13
7. Indoor Environment Quality (IEQ) 16
8. Innovation in Design (ID) 6 10 Bonus points
9. Priority (RP) 4


The scope

The outline and name of its certifier USGBC suggests that this certificate is mostly all about building and its related things. When it talks about Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources or other issues mentioned in the above table, it considers only building and closely related things. However buildings host inhabitants, and their operations. In industrial buildings there are industrial operations.

Inhabitants’ domestic and individual usages are mainly considered in LEED under building process part but it doesn’t consider the industrial process much. As it is known that major resource killing areas are industrial processes, a LEED certified green factory could have very poor performances of resource efficiency and performance in its industrial processes.

For a purely cut and sewing garment industry, LEED could mean a lot as it would cover lighting, domestic use of water, and its inhabitants’ use of materials and resources. But for textile factories having washing, dying or other wet processing activities, LEED doesn’t cover its most water, energy and resource usages. And so a LEED certificate for such factories could be a very good thing but it doesn’t explain fully that the very factory is completely green. Such a factory may require doing a lot of developments in its main textile operations to make them resource efficient and greener.

This article and its analysis is not to undermine the achievements of factories winning LEED certificates, it rather tries to identify the right scopes. However a highly rated LEED certified factories would have a better textile process automatically as LEED certification process gives marks for design innovation, building and its process ecology etc. and those have strong interrelations with mainstream operations.

If anyone has any feedback or input regarding the published news, please contact: info@textiletoday.com.bd

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