Solar-Powered Chocolate

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Climate change is a serious matter, with serious consequences. That’s why hundreds of thousands of marchers showed up in cities around the world to support climate action this weekend.

Some of the more dire effects of climate change may seem distant and slow to come — unless you were on the east coast for Superstorm Sandy or have been affected by any number of severe storms, droughts, and power outages related to the changes in our climate.

But wherever we live, there are ways that climate change could affect every one of us, every day. That’s when it comes to some of our favorite indulgences. We’ve already covered how coffee, beer, and wine could be affected in areas subject to worsening droughts — and, of course, how solar can help.

You can add another item to that list: chocolate.

Now, at least one manufacturer of chocolate and other sugary treats is doing its part to help mitigate the effects of climate change. Mars Chocolate North America says its new manufacturing facility in Topeka, Kansas has earned LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The roughly 500,000-square-foot facility, which opened in March, will feature, among other things, 100% renewable electricity. That’s right, Mars is going all out in this effort.

“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.’”

While this action alone won’t protect the world’s chocolate, it’s certainly a step in the right direction. And Mars is taking big steps. The private, family-owned business aims to eliminate all fossil fuel energy use and greenhouse gas emissions from its direct operations by 2040.

Mars has gone solar in Australia, and several of its facilities in North America also include solar power:

  • The Hackettstown, New Jersey, solar garden provides renewable electricity during peak hours equivalent to approximately 20% of the peak consumption at the plant producing M&M’S® Brand Candies.
  • The solar garden at the Henderson, Nevada, Ethel M’s plant supplies 100% of the renewable electricity to the plant during peak operating hours.
  • Wrigley’s Chattanooga facility installed 240 solar panels on the roof, which saves energy and an estimated $17,000 on electricity each year.

Now you can enjoy your M&M’s, Snickers, and Mars Bars even more, knowing that clean energy helped make them.