Nov 01, 2006 10:30 PM  By

Lake Champlain Chocolates was scheduled in October to move its packaging, warehousing, and shipping divisions into a building down the street from its Burlington, VT, headquarters. The new 47,000-sq.-ft. location is more than double the size of its old distribution center, and it has separate areas for packaging and distribution that will allow the company to better keep track of its inventory by channel.

In addition to being bigger than the old DC, the new facility is much greener. The building boasts energy-efficient heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems; lighting fixtures that incorporate daylight and occupancy sensors; energy-efficient skylights and windows to maximize natural light; water-efficient plumbing fixtures; upgraded 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 the voluntary standards set by the Leadership in Energy Efficiency and Design (LEED) and 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.

LEED certification was important to Lake Champlain Chocolates, Lampman says, because it ensures that the building is meeting the highest energy-efficiency standards, which will lower the company’s power costs 42% a year right from the start.

Founded in 1983, Lake Champlain Chocolates includes three stores in Vermont, a catalog, a Website, and a wholesale business, from which the company derives 75% of its sales. According to Lampman, at 10% of sales, the mail order/Web division is the smallest component of the business, with the stores making up the remaining 15%. The company employs about 80 people, half of whom will move to the new site; administration and production workers will remain in the original location.

It wasn’t just the new facility’s proximity to headquarters that made it so attractive to Lake Champlain Chocolates. 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 Street, and it’s a helluva building.”