Toyota team members have always been directed by the company's guiding principles of continuous improvement, known to us as KAIZEN, and elimination of MUDA, or elimination of any waste from the process of manufacturing our vehicles. But did you know that our relentless focus on KAIZEN and eliminating MUDA extends well beyond our manufacturing operations? We recognize that our building footprint is significant, and our work to minimize and optimize its environmental impact is, therefore, directed by these same Toyota guiding principles.



As our physical building footprint started increasing in the late 1990‘s, we made a concerted effort to apply environmental guidelines and our guiding principles to the way we design, construct and operate our facilities. The objective was to ensure the application of sustainable practices in our projects. This approach was used in 2000 as design began for the former Torrance, California, headquarters campus expansion known as South Campus. This 643,000 square-foot project increased the size of the headquarters campus by 47 percent and, when completed in 2003, was the largest commercial LEED Gold® building in the world. South Campus was also home to what at the time was the largest commercial rooftop solar photovoltaic system as well as many other sustainable features.

 

Since then, our North American real estate holdings have grown, and several facilities have undergone expansions. During this time, we have continually refined our approach to green building and construction.

 

OUR GREEN BUILDING APPROACH

 

We aim to incorporate the highest levels of sustainable features in all aspects of construction and renovation projects. These are the key steps we take as we progress through designing, constructing and commissioning new projects:

 

  • Set project-specific sustainability vision and aspirational goals.
  • Address Toyota Motor North America’s four environmental focus areas of Carbon, Water, Materials and Biodiversity.
  • Take an integrated and holistic design and delivery approach to ensure participation from designers, engineers, contractors and user stakeholders at project conception and continually through completion and commissioning.
  • Challenge the project team to be innovative and aspire for leadership in environmental sustainability.
  • Review various third-party certification programs for their best practices and guidance.
  • Use a deductive approach rather than an additive approach to sustainability.
  • Evaluate possibilities and implement options based on long-term environmental performance and financial value as well as initial cost.

Integrated sustainability is incorporated into the very early stages of conceptual design using a deductive approach. This means that we aim to leave “no stone unturned” in looking at incorporating sustainable design and systems opportunities. A broad range of options is discussed and evaluated from the beginning.

 

While a wide variety of options is discussed, not everything makes sense for a given project. For instance, using a geothermal system to assist the building cooling system at our headquarters campus in Plano seemed like a good idea to reduce electricity consumption. A good idea, that is, until analysis showed, due to the heavy cooling load imposed by the hot northern Texas summer, the ground temperature would be raised by two degrees!

 

On-site wind power in Texas seemed to make sense until we realized the wind turbine blades would be more than 300 feet in diameter and their noise level would not be so neighborly.

 

EARNING LEED

 

Our efforts have been recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council with the award of five LEED Platinum® certifications: three for the Plano, Texas, headquarters campus and one each for the Production Engineering & Manufacturing Center in Georgetown, Kentucky; the Supplier Center in York Township, Michigan; and the Lexus Eastern Area Office in Parsippany, New Jersey.

 

In addition, we have 12 facilities that have earned other levels of LEED certification (Gold, Silver and Certified), and many of our independent dealers have followed our lead. In fact, we have more Toyota/Lexus LEED-certified dealerships than our competitors combined.

 

LOOKING AHEAD

 

We’ve learned a great deal from these experiences, and we are applying our learning to other projects.

 

For example, the new Eastern Canada Parts Distribution Center in Ontario uses geothermal heating that reduces the building’s reliance on natural gas, has dynamic self-dimming glass throughout the offices, uses motion-sensor LED lights, and saves water by collecting rainwater in a cistern and using low-flow amenities. A solar array will be installed and begin operating in 2022. This building is expected to earn both LEED and Zero Carbon Building design certification from the Canadian Green Building Council. Once certified, the ECPDC is expected to be the one of the largest zero carbon-certified buildings in Canada and in North America.

 

We continue to refine our approach to green building, looking for ways to minimize the environmental footprint of our buildings and maximize our positive impacts. Not all projects will pursue LEED certification, but all will aim to incorporate sustainable features to the greatest practical extent.

 

These actions support the Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050, which aims to go beyond merely minimizing environmental impact to creating net positive change. We look forward to sharing additional green building successes in the future, including the renovation of our vehicle logistics facility at the Port of Long Beach in California and the construction of a new visitor center at the assembly plant in Mississippi. Both projects are submitting for LEED® certification.

Mark Yamauchi

LEED AP®
Manager, Environmental Sustainability
Toyota Motor North America, Inc.