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Contessa Sets New Industry Standard in Environmental Responsibility

by Staff Writers
Los Angeles CA (SPX) Oct 26, 2007
On October 18, Contessa Premium Foods offered a VIP sneak peek of its revolutionary Green Cuisine Plant, the world's first and largest environmentally responsible, LEED-certified frozen-food manufacturing plant. The event offered Contessa business associates, political dignitaries and green-minded influencers the first glimpse of the facility via tours led by Contessa President and CEO John Z. Blazevich and company representatives.

The presentation portion of the event, hosted by Sara Snow of Discovery Health Channel's "Get Fresh with Sara Snow," included a proclamation by the city of Commerce, renaming the street where the plant is located "Contessa Drive."

This is the first time the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has awarded LEED certification to a frozen-food manufacturing facility, thereby setting a new industry standard. The LEED rating system is the national standard for the design, construction and operation of green buildings, and recognizes five areas of environmental and human health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, indoor environmental quality and selection of materials.

Located in Los Angeles, the new plant - a 4-million-cubic-foot facility, costing more than $35 million, that will produce up to 150 million pounds of product the first year alone - will use advanced design and technology to significantly reduce Contessa's environmental impact. The facility, its processes, and the product manufactured there will be known as "Green Cuisine."

"Until now, the USGBC has never LEED-certified a frozen-food manufacturing facility," said John Z. Blazevich, CEO and President of Contessa. "As a leader in our industry, we didn't wait for environmental standards to be established. Instead, we collaborated with LEED and decided to raise the bar for the entire industry and to do the right thing for the long-term sustainability of our environment."

The new Contessa plant excels in all five areas of the LEED rating system. Some of the more notable features include:

+ A solar-power array that reduces carbon dioxide emissions by more than 730,000 pounds each year, producing an effect similar to conserving 276 acres of pine forest - roughly the size of 209 football fields, including end zones - each year.

+ A water preheating system that saves energy by redirecting the heat used in refrigeration coils to the plant's boilers.

+ Variable frequency drives that adjust the amount of power supplied to motors at specific times or under specific conditions to minimize energy use.

+ An innovative loading dock that prevents the loss of refrigerated air, reducing temperature fluctuation - and energy use - in the loading dock area.

Along with setting out to surpass environmental expectations, there are several "first-to-market" innovations Blazevich put into practice, such as the heat-redirection system that has never before been used in a temperature- controlled manufacturing plant.

Typically, to keep refrigerator coils from freezing over, they are periodically injected with hot gas, which normally dissipates into the air. Contessa's plant was designed to capture that gas and redirect it to a water storage tank, where it preheats the water stored there.

Because the water is warmed before it reaches the boilers, the amount of energy needed to get the water up to the temperature required for a specific task, such as sanitation, is minimized.

In addition to using modernist systems and technology designed to reduce water and energy consumption and waste when the plant is in use, every effort was made to address environmental concerns during the building's construction. For example, many of the building materials contained recycled content, and almost half the materials were sourced within 500 miles of the site to support the local economy and reduce the amount of fossil fuel consumed during transportation.

Blazevich continued, "We are breaking new ground by opening the first fully temperature-controlled, energy-efficient plant of its kind. The freezing and refrigeration processes used for Contessa Green Cuisine products ensure the highest quality and freshness and will have consumers rethinking what frozen food means to them."

The Green Cuisine Plant is just one example of Contessa's ongoing commitment to the environment and paramount quality. Since its inception, the Company has used methods of shrimp production that are considered entirely turtle-safe, and Contessa shrimp is farm-raised and harvested through a process known as aquaculture - the cultivation of aquatic plants and animals - which is an ideal way to augment the world's food supply.

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Scientist seeks self-cleaning solar cells
Gainesville, Fla. (UPI) Oct 23, 2007
A U.S. scientist, spurred by the features of moth eyes and cicada wings, is developing more efficient and self-cleaning solar cells.

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