Cobham earns green building grade

Published 11:00 pm Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Cobham: From left, Mayor Linda T. Johnson, Sen. Fred Quayle and local attorney Whitney Saunders investigate a Cobham product at the company’s Suffolk location opening last year. The building recently attained LEED certification.

The Cobham Composite manufacturing facility has been recognized as an example of sustainable building design by the U.S. Green Building Council.

The facility, located on Harbourview Boulevard, recently received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certification.

LEED measures several different aspects of buildings, including sustainability, water efficiency and energy consumption.

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The council can award up to 110 points for the certification, and there are three additional levels above the base certification — silver, gold and platinum. To achieve certification, 40 points are required while the silver level calls for 50, gold is 60 and platinum is 80.

Cobham received 46 points for its building, which has a variety of sustainable features such as motion-sensor air conditioning and lighting.

The facility also has specially-designed refrigerators and toilets to reduce energy and water consumption.

Gregg Strangways, director of operations for the facility, said the certification was part of Cobham’s safety, health and environmental goals for 2011, but LEED practices have been in effect since the company began leasing the building about two years ago.

The company opened the 73,500-square foot facility in May 2010 to build various components for aircraft as well as missiles and munitions for the U.S. aerospace and defense industries.

Strangways said the building was only a shell when Cobham moved in, and the company kept environmental sustainability in mind during construction.

“We tied with our general contractor, and they helped begin the certification process,” Strangways said. “We defined the area we wanted to focus on in order to become LEED certified. (The contractor) really helped take us that direction.”

To earn the certification, the company had to follow strict guidelines from the beginning of construction.

For example, when concrete had to be torn out to lower the floors, the company had to make sure the waste didn’t end up in a landfill. Instead, the extra concrete was used in the construction of another building.

Strangways said it was fairly easy to follow LEED certification standards because the building was so empty when Cobham took over.

He said it is easy to install energy-efficient bulbs if there aren’t any lights to begin with.

“You had to buy them anyway, and you could put in the right ones,” Strangways said.

He said he thinks many people are focusing on their impacts on the environment, and it is important for companies like Cobham to do the same.

He added by using environmentally-conscious building practices, Cobham exhibits respect for the people who live and work near the facility.

“I think a company has multiple stakeholders and to be truly successful, you have to consider all stakeholders and part of that is your neighbors,” he said. “We wanted to be a positive part of the community.”

In addition to Cobham, the Health and Human Services building on Hall Avenue is LEED certified.

For more information on LEED certification, visit