Project Completion Year
Project Location: City
Project Location: State
Project Location: Country
United States of America
The first factory opening in the South Side of Chicago in nearly 30 years, Method Home: The South Side Soapbox sought to redefine the historic Pullman District community. Just as the 19th century neighborhood was founded on elevating the lives of working families, Method sought to cultivate the same legacy of industrial innovation and create a model for the clean industrial revolution. Designed to be part of a future mixed-use development, Method envisioned employees living nearby, the building providing daylighting to maximize employees’ connection to nature while allowing visitors to look in through large windows and utilize the “front yard” as a park.
The front has colorful, welcoming awnings that serve as sun shades to help regulate heating and cooling needs. The 157,660 sf manufacturing facility was designed to epitomize Method’s commitment to the environment and community wellbeing, while still maintaining a competitive budget. The rooftop greenhouse, the largest in the world at 75,000 sf, provides fresh greens to the area, often referred to as a “food desert.” The urban greenhouse was incorporated with the purpose of creating buildings modeled on natural processes through industrial agriculture.
The first LEED® Platinum manufacturing facility in its industry, The South Side Soapbox relies on a refurbished on-site wind turbine for 60% of its energy, supplemented by solar trees that track the sun and provide hot water to office sinks and showers. These additions signal Method’s commitment to sustainability in ways that are both symbolic and substantive.
Sustainable Design Intent and Innovation
Method’s new manufacturing home is a clean home — using clean energy, water and materials to create innovative household products. The new state-of-the-art facility showcases the company’s dedication to sustainability with the first LEED® Platinum manufacturing facility in its industry. The former brownfield site in Chicago’s Historic Pullman neighborhood has been rehabilitated by Method to express its mission at every scale.
Method drew on Pullman’s tradition of progressive thinking in establishing the project goals:
- Create a model for the clean industrial revolution
- Restore, heal and support the local community and economy
- Grow value for the community
- Celebrate ingenuity, innovation and prosperity
- Strive for the living embodiment of the Method brand
- Create a place that promotes commingling among all workers
- Combine bottling, production and shipping in one location
- Create a place that celebrates transparency and is open to the public for viewing Method products and processes
- Endeavor to use 60% renewable onsite energy
- Provide an abundance of daylight and fresh air for everyone in the factory and offices
- Follow Cradle to Cradle® protocols, wherever possible
- Achieve LEED® Platinum certification
The facility is paving the way for the future of urban agriculture. A 75,000 sf (1.72 acres) rooftop greenhouse installation is designed to grow up to 500 tons of fresh, pesticide-free produce annually, which is sold to local restaurants and available to the surrounding community through produce markets. Rooftop farming requires 20 times less land and 10 times less water than conventional agriculture and avoids fertilizer runoff as well as the need for pesticides. The visionary partnerships behind the facility have earned it the 2016 CoreNet Global Sustainable Leadership Award, resulting in a coveted position on the shortlist for global innovators.
Approximately 60% of the factory’s energy is supplied by a refurbished 230 foot, 600 kW on-site wind turbine, by NEG Micon. This is supplemented by three solar trees over the parking area that rotate to track the sun and provide up to 45.9 kW of energy each. Chicago has roughly 2500 sun hours per year, which could generate around 115 MWh annually. Solar thermal collectors provide hot water to office sinks and showers. The entry canopy is covered with a green roof, visible from the terrace level of the facility which decreases energy use, improves urban air quality and reduces stormwater runoff, resulting in less stress on public sewer systems.
The factory and administrative offices are located on a 21.2 acre (0.17 FAR) classified brownfield site – the formerly abandoned Ryerson Steel Mill. About 16 miles from downtown Chicago, the project is part of the Pullman Park mixed-use development, a project intending to bring industry, housing and retail to the area. The site offers great opportunities to support a growing community and encourages employees to live nearby so they can walk or bike to work, share transportation and use public transit. For bikers, racks are located just outside of the Method employee entry, connecting directly to the showers and locker room. The Metra Commuter rail line runs along Cottage Grove, just west of the facility. To the east, there are bus stops. Employees also benefit from nearby shopping, where a network of walkways from the factory encourages pedestrian connectivity. Car transportation is also made easy given the site’s close proximity to I-94
The south wall of the factory is highly transparent and serves as a metaphor of Method’s corporate transparency, while also giving workers a strong visual connection to the outdoors and providing an abundance of daylight. Meanwhile, neighbors can use the factory’s “front yard” as a park. Method provides public tours of the facility, which is close to a transit line, available to customers, stakeholders, vendors or anybody from nearby community including schoolchildren who are interested in learning about sustainable building, renewable energy, hydroponic farming and green manufacturing.
One of Method’s main sustainable site objectives was environmental design for storm water since the local watershed goes to nearby Lake Calumet. Two main drivers went into planning: addressing the quantity of water and quality of water leaving the site. Overall, 67% of the site is a vegetated open space, restored or protected with native plants and ground coverings. Such design efforts reduce storm water runoff and erosion risks. The post-development site runoff does not exceed the pre-development site runoff. This is achieved through effective design strategies such as pervious ground treatment, waterway controls, utilization of the detention pond and minimizing hardscapes. Storm water from paved surfaces is conveyed to the curb and captured in bioswales through which it can filter back into the ground. Providing this pretreatment helps reduce the impact of pollutants leaving the site by 90%. Inside-the-box, cost-effective, high-efficiency plumbing fixtures were installed along with sensors to achieve more than 30% water savings from conventional fixtures.
In a reference to the site’s former use as a lumberyard, wood is incorporated in places such as the entry canopy, the cafe facade and roof terrace. Materials were selected using Cradle to Cradle® protocols and wherever available Cradle to Cradle Certified™ products. More than 30% of construction materials came from within 500 miles of the factory and manufactured with recycled contents. Colored fabrics, graphics and embossed messages are used to evidence the Method brand both inside and outside the factory.
Design Architect (FIRM)
William McDonough + Partners
Renewable Energy Consultant