Signature Event Review: Whirlpool Tour

The Sustainable Business Forum hosted a standing-room only program and tour of Whirlpool’s new Benton Harbor Refrigeration Technology Center.

Part of a $155 million into the Benton Harbor area, the new facility opened a year ago in a state of the art repurposed from a plant used to built boats during World War II. It is Whirlpools largest refrigeration technology center and among the world’s largest, featuring research facilities and a testing ground for product performance.

The presentation from the program can be downloaded here (PDF).

Some highlights:

  • Brain Babel, Director of Facilities Management for JLL, which manages the facility, shared photos of the original building, with ships that were constructed on site and provided explanations of each type of ship.
  • Marcia Rarrick, a Senior Project Manager, discussed what should be included in an innovative and sustainable facility, and how Whirlpool operates under the idea of making people feel comfortable and closer to the environment in a welcoming workspace. Whirlpool has adopted that notion into their “winning workplace” motto that includes three key features: environment, tools, and culture. To implement a winning workplace they have eliminated “me” spaces and created “we” spaces, meaning there are less personal offices and more collaborative areas to promote more of a team atmosphere.
  • Ceile Cull, Senior Project Manager, and Senior Chief Engineer, Tony Tomal also discussed new construction and sustainability aspects of the building. Sustainable features include building reuse (urban infill), utilization of natural light, alternative transportation (car charging stations and LEFE vehicles), certified wood, low emitting materials, water use reduction and thermal comfort.
  • The facility reused the original wood ceilings, which are visible above the engineering area.