Golden State turning green

Feb. 18, 2015
From facilities to vehicles, distributor takes environmental stewardship seriously

From reusing rainwater to electric standby power for its refrigeration fleet, Golden State Foods (GSF) is making every effort possible to be a leader in environmental stewardship in the greater Chicago area. That includes the recent opening of a 158,000-sq.-ft. distribution center that is the company’s first ISO 14001 certified facility. It is also the first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold distribution center (DC) in the GSF system.

GSF is a supplier to the quick service industry employing about 4,500 employees worldwide and servicing 125,000 stores and 100 customers on five continents. The DC services more than 460 McDonald’s restaurants in the Chicago and Northwest Indiana market with a fleet of 49 trailers. There are 650 trucks in the company overall, traveling over 40 million mi. per year.

The initiatives are part of GSF’s “North Star” goals, which include a 20% carbon reduction by 2020, zero waste to landfill at 100% of GSF facilities by 2020, converting 75% of facilities to Energy Star/LEED certification by 2020, creating a vehicle fleet that is 100% operated on renewable energy and alternative fuels by 2020, and 75% “active engagement” by GSF employees by 2020.

“We have a responsibility to future generations to ensure that sustainable practices are at the heart of our business. We recognize that continual improvement through evaluation and refinement, shared best practices, and innovative and forward-thinking programs are essential for maintaining measurable and forward progress for GSF’s sustainability goals and initiatives,” the company says.

At the Chicago DC, the company installed LED lighting on both the interior and exterior, and it collects rainwater in a 40,000-gal. cistern to irrigate the landscaping. “The landscaping consists of native, water-efficient vegetation,” the company explains. “GSF Chicago was designed to reduce water consumption through the installation of high efficiency plumbing and the use of an automated fleet wash system that reclaims and filters water for the next wash cycle. In addition, ionized water, a by-product of the hydrogen fuel cells, is reclaimed for cleaning purposes, including the warehouse floors.”

Thirty-nine hydrogen fuel cell fork trucks are used to move product around the facility, replacing electric battery-powered units.

Also, the facility’s Cascade refrigeration system uses ammonia carbon dioxide that contains zero CFCs, and clean panel windows and KalWall insulated panels allow natural lighting in and keep the facility cooler. GSF Chicago was also designed to be 40% more energy-efficient and use 42% less natural gas than buildings of comparable size, the company says. A variable air ventilation system circulates air throughout the facility three times an hour, improving air quality.

On its Chicago trailer fleet, GSF is using Atlantic Dynamics’ SafeConnect electric standby connection system to power its Carrier Transicold refrigeration units. The company has installed 25 of the systems on the “ready line.” Additional systems can be installed at loading docks. All 49 trailers have been equipped with the necessary connections.

“The main objectives were to reduce reefer fuel consumption and lower our operating expenses. By reducing fuel consumption, we are also aligning with our goal to reduce our carbon footprint,” the company says. “Once trailers are loaded, they are moved from the loading dock to the ready line. Our yard spotters are responsible for hooking the trailers up to the SafeConnect system, which converts the power source from diesel consumption to electric power.”

In other areas of the country, such as Southern California, GSF has installed solar panels on its trailers to power liftgates and pallet jacks. Also, GSF has attained ISO 14001 certification at 100% of its domestic facilities dedicated to McDonald’s distribution and at 50% of its domestic processing facilities and at GSF New Zealand.  

About the Author

Brian Straight | Managing Editor

Brian joined Fleet Owner in May 2008 after spending nearly 14 years as sports editor and then managing editor of several daily newspapers.  He and his staff  won more than two dozen major writing and editing awards. Responsible for editing, editorial production functions and deadlines.

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