Climate change and environmental degradation are forcing a reckoning within the manufacturing industry: Clients and consumers are demanding that manufacturers do more with less, and manufacturers are demanding the same of themselves through Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) mandates. Government regulations and financial incentives (and penalties) add further motivation to manufacture in ways that are environmentally responsible, socially equitable and economically viable.

Fortunately, it is a challenge that can be met through ingenuity, technology and the spirit of collaboration.  

PCL has been bringing a solutions-oriented approach to the construction of manufacturing facilities for more than 100 years, having built more than 20 million square feet of facilities with a combined value of more than $6 billion. 

“As a sustainable construction partner, PCL brings extensive experience with sustainable building practices, low-carbon material selection and green construction processes to every project,” says PCL’s Director of National Manufacturing, Andrew Ahrendt. “The key is to understand a client’s goals and expectations from the very beginning, and to conduct a full life-cycle analysis that includes operating costs and return on investment.”

PCL’s in-house experts combine their knowledge and experience with a client’s aspirations to overcome every unique challenge. They guide owners and consultants through building assessments, help capture strategic data for energy insights and execute projects tailored to a client’s specific needs and wishes. PCL has provided clients with solutions that include the use of renewable energy, the design and construction of state-of-the-art building envelopes to reduce energy demands, and the collection and analysis of data to inform decision-making and allow for continuous improvement. 

PCL’s in-house experts guide owners and consultants through building assessments, help capture strategic data for energy insights and execute projects tailored to a client’s specific needs and wishes.

  • Life Cycle Analysis Sustainable manufacturing starts with product design that considers the product’s entire life cycle, from raw material extraction to end-of-life disposal. Similarly, building a sustainable facility begins in the planning and design stages. The early engagement of PCL’s experts helps optimize building design and allows us to leverage the team’s expertise with logistics, budgets and schedules. 
  • Use Sustainable Materials and High-performance Equipment From low-carbon steel and concrete through FSC-certified wood, PCL leverages an extensive range of supply-chain partners to reduce embodied carbon, solve complex problems and meet client goals. This includes the optimization of mechanical and electrical equipment including chillers and air handlers.
  • Measure Everything Recent legislation in California and the European Union requires that companies over a certain size begin reporting Scopes 1, 2 and 3 emissions in the coming years, and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is considering similar mandates. Using smart technologies, PCL can measure, report and develop strategies to reduce emissions both during and after construction.
    “Understanding and reporting on emissions is or soon will be a legislated requirement of all construction and operations,” says Ahrendt. “Integrating smart building sensor technologies to capture data and then leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning to aggregate and report on ESG metrics is critical to our manufacturing partners’ goals and supply chain integrity.”
  • Integrate Renewable Energy PCL has experience integrating renewable energy into a variety of projects. Some examples include using solar-powered work trailers on the job site, installing geothermal and solar power for the facility itself, and heat recovery units on production lines.
  • Waste Not Using off-site prefabrication and modular construction techniques, PCL reduces or outright eliminates construction and manufacturing waste. Working with advanced BIM technologies, PCL’s modular design experts and process engineers work to streamline the manufacturing and module assembly processes - reducing labor, time, cost, complexities and waste.
  • Seek Continuous Improvement A defining feature of modern construction is live performance data. A plan for collecting and analyzing this data is a top priority. PCL facilitates and participates in robust conversations about the flow of performance metrics to help clients identify and meet KPIs and digitize ESG efforts. The team is equipped to identify and prioritize the KPIs targeted by project certifications (LEED, Passive House, etc.) and work to demystify client reporting needs.

Sustainable manufacturing benefits the environment and contributes to long-term economic viability by reducing operational costs, enhancing brand reputation, and appealing to environmentally conscious customers and investors. This approach aligns with the broader concept of sustainability, which aims to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, and can be accomplished when the right team is brought together with a shared vision.