Sustainability is one of the biggest buzzwords in construction and economic development today. Whether it’s a matter of political correctness, governmental incentives or good old corporate responsibility, bakers are thinking green.

But what exactly constitutes “green,” and what does it take to get there? While many facilities are going for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification, such as Mile Hi Bakery’s recent expansion in Denver, LEED design isn’t for everyone.

“We’re not getting a lot of people coming to us saying, ‘This facility must be LEED,’” said Jim Kline, owner of the Ensol Group, Erwinna, PA, and Baking & Snack contributing editor. “But we get people who say, ‘When we go through this design, we want to evaluate what is the cost-effective approach to going green.’”

Mr. Kline suggested that when a bakery is ready to invest, the question to ask should be, “When we invest, what will benefit the world and us?” It’s important to remember, he emphasized, that a bakery does not have to necessarily have a LEED Gold certified building to be mindful of its sustainability efforts. Sustainable design is more about evaluating all options and making a responsible and informed decision than it is about having the “right” certifications or products.

“All you can do is make the best decision you can,” Mr. Kline advised, and that goes for a “greenfield” bakery built from the ground up, or an existing “brownfield” facility converted into a food-safe operation.

As the industry continues to expand and evolve, it’s important for bakers to remember that growth doesn’t just happen in the bricks and mortar; it extends far beyond the walls of a facility, and growth for the bakery means growth for the community at large, as well.