TOPEKA, KAS. — Mars Chocolate North America’s 500,000-square-foot manufacturing facility that opened in Topeka in March has earned LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The certification recognizes Mars for meeting the benchmark for designing, constructing and operating green buildings.

“We’re proud that this state-of-the-art site engages cutting-edge environmental standards, setting an example for others to follow,” said Bret Spangler, site director — Topeka, Mars Chocolate North America. “Mars is committed to putting our principles into action to drive leadership in sustainability. LEED Gold certification for the Topeka facility is another shining example of our ambitious goal to make our factories and offices ‘Sustainable in a Generation.’”

The Topeka site includes several sustainable systems and features, such as: 100% renewable electricity, heat recovery systems, rain water harvesting for sewage transfer in the office area and for landscape irrigation, low-flow water fixtures, energy-efficient lighting, reusing and recycling building materials, use of native grasses without irrigation, and the use of low-emitting local and regional materials.

In addition to the Topeka facility, Mars has achieved LEED Gold status for its Mars Chocolate North America corporate headquarters in Hackettstown, N.J., and Mars Petcare’s pet food manufacturing facility in Fort Smith, Ark. The Topeka plant makes M&M’s and Snickers bars.

Since 2011, Mars has aimed to achieve LEED Gold certification for all new major buildings globally. Additional sustainability initiatives undertaken by Mars in North America include:

• In May, Mars announced the creation of a 200-megawatt wind farm that will generate electricity equivalent to 100% of the power for Mars’ U.S. operations, which is comprised of 70 sites, including 37 facilities and 25,000 associates.

• In 2013, Mars Chocolate North America improved its energy intensity by more than 7% and its water intensity by 9%.

• The Hackettstown, N.J., solar garden provides renewable electricity during peak hours equivalent to approximately 20% of the peak consumption at the plant producing M&M’s.

• The solar garden at the Henderson, Nev., Ethel M’s plant supplies 100% of the renewable electricity to the plant during peak operating hours.