A couple of years ago, when the Lauterbach Group was looking to expand into a larger building, the company ran into a series of obstacles. Prices in their Waukesha, WI, USA, neighborhood were at a premium, and the cost of retrofitting an existing building for flexo printing was starting to look prohibitive. So they began to look at land, and found a tract in the village of Sussex, about 10 miles north, that showed some promise. “We got a good price per acre, though the property had some developmental challenges that would require a lot of fill and things along those lines,” says Shane Lauterbach, the company’s president.
The Lauterbach people started talking with the village elders, and learned that they’d have to spend about a half million dollars on fill to bring up the grade about four feet to drain runoff into a master retention pond. “It was then that we started learning about LEED,” Lauterbach says. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a rating system for green buildings created by the United States Green Building Council. LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality.
“We started asking questions,” says Lauterbach, “like what if we were to put in porous pavement? The conversation took on a life of its own as we learned to understand some of these initiatives. It started with that one little exchange over the fill: People said it would be more expensive to put in porous pavement by about $50,000, but it ended up saving us $400,000 in fill.”
The village jumped into the project with the issuance of an industrial revenue bond, which is federally tax exempt. Because the property was low, the village declared it developmentally challenged, which gave Lauterbach Group state tax exemption on the bond.
“We started to wonder what other opportunities were available,” Lauterbach recalls. “We started picking them off one by one. For example, the roof is a foot thicker and full of insulation, and has sound deadening dampers to quiet the sound in the production facility. Because of that, there’s a big HVAC savings in the process.” Other adjustments, such as the direction of the building overall and the location of the loading docks, has resulted in a building twice the size of the company’s old place, with energy expense going up only by one-third.
“We looked at lights in production and in the office, adding skylights and sidelights. In that process there is even more savings, because in the offices during day you won’t need a whole lot of artificial light.
“The village told us we had to hook up to the sewer, so we asked about issues related to water, and what, specifically, in our inks can cause problems. What came out of that discussion was a water recycling system that creates high quality gray water. The system takes 99+ percent of the inks and pigments out of the water, and results in a compressed dry hockey puck that goes into landfill.”
The company also collects rainwater from the roof, uses local suppliers as much as possible, and purchased glass and concrete with a recycled component in each.
Internally, the Lauterbach Group has a Productivity Services organization charged with reducing waste and improving efficiencies, based on Lean Manufacturing principles. “The building falls right in line with that,” Shane Lauterbach says. “We recycle everything: cans, cardboard, ink. We reuse components and materials. We track our pages printed in the print center for copies and faxes, right down to how much ink is being consumed. We have Dumpsters for cardboard, for wood, for true waste, for concrete. We segregate production waste from other waste. We are working on matrix recycling with UPM Raflatac. We collect liner from some customers, and cores, which we reuse.”
The old plant has about 17,000 square feet of space for offices, and 35,000 for production. Office space remains the same at the new facility, but production is now 70,000 square feet, and the plant has a 25,000 square foot mezzanine as well.
Lauterbach Group moved its first press from