Lake Champlain Chocolates in October is moving its packaging, warehousing, and shipping divisions into a building down the street from its Burlington, VT, headquarters. Not only is the new 47,000 sq. ft.- location more than double the size of its old distribution center, it’s also a whole lot greener. The building boasts energy-efficient heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems; lighting fixtures that incorporate daylight and occupancy sensors, and using natural light through energy-efficient skylights and windows; water-efficient plumbing fixtures; improved ventilation; vastly improved insulation which exceeds Burlington’s building code; and Forest Stewardship Council-certified finished woods. “We wanted to provide a healthy environment to work in,” says Lake Champlain Chocolates’ founder/president Jim Lampman.
The facility will meet or exceed standards set by the Leadership in Energy Efficiency and Design (LEED), a voluntary green building standard developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. Burlington’s Community and Economic Development office helped the company determine how to make the facility more energy efficient, as well as how to qualify for LEED certification. The LEED certification was important to Lake Champlain Chocolates, Lampman says, because it ensures the building is meeting the highest energy efficiency standards, and will lower the company’s overall power costs 42% per year from the start. The new building will have separate areas for packaging and distribution that will allow the company to better keep track of its inventory by channel.
Founded in 1983, Lake Champlain Chocolates includes three stores in Vermont, a catalog, Website, and a wholesale business, from which Champlain derives 75% of its sales. According to Lampman, at 10% of sales, mail order/Web comprises the smallest part of the business, while retail stores make up remaining 15%. The company employs about 80 people, half of whom will move to the new site, while administration and production workers will remain in the original location. It wasn’t just the new facility’s close proximity that made it so attractive to Lake Champlain, however. The company jumped at the chance to be able to rehab the building, which formerly housed a plastic brush manufacturer, as part of its civic duty. “It’s not all about selling chocolates,” Lampman says. “It’s about giving back to the community. We’ve restored an eyesore on Pine St., and it’s a helluva building.”