November 30, 2021

Coming in at no. 41 in our Top 100 Projects countdown is Testa Produce's headquarters and distribution facility, an Epstein-designed 91,300-square-foot plant located in the old Union Stockyards complex in Chicago.

This 12.86-acre project includes 20,000 square feet of Class A office space and a distribution center containing a 7,600-square-foot 0° freezer, 24,700 square feet of cooler space, approximately 39,000 square feet of dry warehouse and 40 truck dock positions on two refrigerated cross docks. This building is one of the most sustainable industrial facilities of its kind and the world's first LEED-NC Platinum refrigerated distribution facility.

The building features numerous Epstein-developed sustainable design strategies, such as incorporating a 238-foot-tall wind turbine that provides power to the facility and a variety of landscape, solar and water conservation features.

The wind turbine was the first free standing turbine in the City of Chicago and is capable of producing 750 kilowatts of power. Testa's turbine will generate roughly 25 percent of the building's power and roughly 880,000 kw/hrs per year, which is the equivalent of about 80 homes worth of energy being offset annually.

The facility also features a 1-acre vegetated green roof that covers approximately 50 percent of the net roof area. The green roof helps prevent stormwater runoff and has a barreled roof that slopes down and spills over the roof's edge, forming a green wall that provides the building with a unique green identity. It is believed this barreled roof effect is the first of its kind in the United States. The vegetated native plant materials that comprise the roof require zero irrigation and the water collected from the roof is drained and stored in a cistern, which is then utilized for non-potable uses.

Other features to minimize and recycle stormwater runoff from the roof include a 5,000 gallon internally filtered rainwater harvesting cistern to capture and reuse rainwater and permeable pavers that drain into a 140,312-gallon bio-swale system, or live wetlands. The site also features a 765,085 gallon external stormwater retention pond.


In addition to minimizing the facility's stormwater runoff, the rainwater harvesting system provides all the water required to flush toilets at the facility during a typical year. This, combined with low-flow/flush plumbing fixtures, contributes to more than a 75 percent reduction in the building's annual water use.

The site was designed to require no significant irrigation beyond plant establishment; watering is only necessary in times of severe drought. This sustainable feature was accomplished by utilizing native plant species that do not require continual irrigation.

Solar energy is also utilized throughout the facility. The building features 21 solar hot water panels that provide 100 percent of the building's heated water needs - showers, sinks and sanitation. The solar hot water system is the first U.S. commercial evacuated tube collector system using pure water as the working fluid. There are 180 solar panels located on the roof, rear dock, and on pole-mounted solar trees in the parking lot. The solar trees generate power and have battery charger capability for employees' cars. There are 159 photovoltaic solar panels that produce the energy equivalence of 5,500 kilowatt hours per year.

Skylights installed throughout the office area are used to not only provide natural ambient lighting, which has been shown to improve worker morale and productivity, but also a solar tracking system that will adjust the ambient lighting based on the sun's position at a given time.

In addition to these sustainable design features, the Testa facility also features:
- 100 percent LED lighting in offices, freezer and outdoor fixtures

- Motion sensor lighting throughout the entire facility.

- All cleaning and pest control products used in the building are green certified

- All delivery trucks in the 60-plus fleet run on bio-diesel fuel, which contributes to reduced air-pollutants

All of these sustainable design elements result in a 63 percent cost savings in energy consumption compared with a typical facility of this kind.