Jan 05, 2012 • By

Albuquerque celebrates an important award

I had the chance to meet New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez as she visited General Mills’ production facility in Albuquerque, N.M. yesterday, to mark an important environmental achievement and celebrate the completion of the plant’s recent expansion.

It was a memorable day for me and the plant’s employees who gave the Governor a warm welcome as she toured the new addition.

The excitement of hosting the Governor was in the air in the plant as she walked through the facility, greeting employees and learning more about the company’s manufacturing operations and the iconic food brands we sell around the globe.

The Governor’s tour also included an in-depth look at the Albuquerque plant’s environmental sustainability programs.

On a scheduled stop to learn more about the facility’s aggressive recycling program, General Mills’ Environmental Engineer Matt Nowakowski explained that the plant has eliminated nearly 250 trips to the landfill each year by expanding its recycling stream.

“We focus not only easier-to-recycle materials such as corrugated boxes but also carton cores, sacks and other items that typically just get tossed out. We have also added a new recycling center and a loading dock that makes it easier to transport ready-to-recycle materials away from our facility.”

Albuquerque Plant Manager Keith Bone, who served as the Governor’s tour guide, also pointed out other examples of the company’s commitment to environmental sustainability.

For example, a new high-efficiency oven has contributed to a nearly 30 percent reduction in energy use over General Mills’ most energy-efficient plant.

Also, carpoolers and high-efficiency vehicles get priority parking in the company lot.

And native vegetation has replaced water-intensive landscaping to help reduce irrigation water by 70 percent.

Employees also take advantage of the company’s bike commuting program, which provides access to amenities such as bike storage lockers. The company also loans bikes to employees for commuting or leisure.

With the tour complete, the Governor walked to a tent where more than 100 local dignitaries, elected officials and media were gathered.

The environmentally sustainable design and construction of the new expansion make the facility the first of its kind in New Mexico. And one of fewer than 10 food production plants worldwide.

“As a partner in General Mills’ recent expansion, we applaud them for protecting and conserving the natural resources of our great state, while serving as an economic engine,” said Gov. Martinez. “All of these efforts have led to a very special recognition for this building – a LEED Gold certification.”

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), from the U.S. Green Building Council.

CAPTION – Gov. Martinez, Keith Bone, Gregg Stedronsky (vice president of Engineering, Global Safety and Environment) and Tony Sparks, a representative from the New Mexico chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council.

You could feel beams of pride from the employees sitting in the audience as the beautiful LEED Gold certification glass plaque was unveiled.

In his closing remarks, Keith thanked employees in Albuquerque for their hard work and dedication to making LEED Gold a reality. “I share this honor with you and am proud to be part of your team.”

Thank you to Gov. Martinez for helping us celebrate this important milestone on General Mills’ sustainability journey. It was a day to be recorded in General Mills’ history book.

The Albuquerque expansion is General Mills’ first production plant – and fourth company building – to earn environmentally friendly LEED certification. Other buildings include a distribution center in Social Circle, Ga.; an office building in Minneapolis and the Swiss Innovation Center for the company’s global cereal partnership with Nestlé.

To learn more about the environmental benefits of the Albuquerque expansion, view this press release.

Editor’s note: KRQE-TV posted a short interview with Gov. Martinez.