Brandix achieves world first in eco-friendly manufacture

Sri Lanka’s apparel sector inspiration Brandix has achieved a world first across all sectors, with its Green Factory in Seeduwa becoming the first apparel manufacturing facility in the world to be rated Platinum under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System of the US Green Building Council (USGBC).


The 130,000 square-foot Brandix Eco Centre, Brandix Casualwear’s lead manufacturing plant for global giant Marks & Spencer, achieved a score of 76 on the 85-point LEED certification system, setting a global benchmark for low energy consumption, water conservation, solid waste management and low carbon emissions. It is the only converted Green Factory in the world to receive the Platinum rating, the highest standard in eco-friendly manufacture.


Formally inaugurated on April 25 this year by Marks & Spencer CEO Sir Stuart Rose, the plant converted into an Eco Centre at a cost of US $ 3 million has achieved a reduction of carbon emissions by 80 per cent, an energy saving of 46 per cent, a reduction of water consumption of 58 per cent and zero solid waste to landfill, eco-friendly indicators as yet unmatched by any re-designed Green Plant anywhere in the world.


“This is possibly one of the most satisfying milestones achieved by Brandix in its short but meteoric history,” commented AJ Johnpillai, Director Brandix. “The fact that it is a global first for us, our country and the apparel industry worldwide, makes it all the more significant, and is a huge shot in the arm for our apparel sector in these challenging times.”


He said the score of 76 achieved by Brandix, 12 points higher than the 64 required for Platinum status, demonstrated the degree to which the Brandix Eco Centre had exceeded the planet’s highest Green Factory rating. “This is also a tribute to the local engineering skills available and in particular to our consultants EnergySolve International, whose knowledge and commitment were invaluable.”


The conversion of the 30 year old factory into a Green manufacturing location was made more challenging by the LEED requirement that at least 50 per cent of the occupants of the building had to remain in service inside the building during its conversion, and Brandix’s determination that the energy conservation ratings required would be achieved with air-conditioning, another requirement for Platinum status. Air-conditioning accounts for about 70 per cent of the energy consumed in a garment factory.


To meet the requirements of LEED certification, Brandix invested in the latest screw-type chiller unit patented in the US to provide energy-efficient air-conditioning for the entire factory, which comprises of three sewing plants. Square ducts were converted to round ducts to reduce distribution losses, and a 75mm insulation and heat-reflective panel was introduced into the roof. The windows were enlarged to provide more light and a better view out to workers, and the glass replaced with special glass with a high solar reflective index.


Special prismatic material used for skylights in the roof allows only the passage of solar light without the accompanying heat. Sophisticated new light emitting diodes used as task lights provide light to the sewing machines, supplementing the natural light provided by the skylights. Bay lights are to be used only on cloudy or rainy days. Brandix has introduced facilities for direct and indirect rain water harvesting including the collection of water from down-pipes for reuse. A series of measures exist to reduce water consumption through recycling, whereby direct rainwater is initially recycled for all use except for drinking. Subsequently, a tertiary filtration system and a disinfection process allows the used water to be recycled again for toilet flushing and gardening.


The factory has also achieved zero solid waste disposal by recycling or reusing 100 per cent of the solid waste it produces. Even canteen waste is being composted and contributes to biogas generation. The green areas in the gardens have been increased substantially to provide all occupants with the stipulated view of green area, and two indoor green patches have been introduced to the plant with the largest floor area. Transportation within the premises is by electric car to eliminate use of fossil fuel inside the plant. An advanced intelligent building management system controls relative humidity and carbon dioxide levels to improve comfort levels for workers.


Brandix pioneered the concept of total solutions in the Sri Lankan apparel industry and has been recognized as Sri Lanka’s largest apparel exporter by the Export Development Board for the past two years. Comprising of 25 fully-integrated manufacturing facilities backed by strategically located international sourcing offices, Brandix provides direct employment to over 25,000 people. The Group specializes in casual bottoms, intimate and active wear, textiles, knitted fabrics, sewing and embroidery thread, accessories and hangers, and offers wet processing and finishing and fabric printing. Brandix is a preferred solutions provider to some of the world’s best brands, including Gap, Marks & Spencer, Victoria’s Secret, NEXT, Lands End, Ann Taylor, Abercrombie & Fitch and Tommy Hilfiger.