LEGO to Build a (Real) Solar Power Plant on Its New Factory Site in Virginia
The LEGO Group has announced plans to build a $1 billion dollar factory in Chesterfield County, Virginia, complete with a solar facility to power the factory. The company’s goal is for its first U.S. factory in over 16 years to be completely carbon neutral.
“The location in Virginia allows us to build a solar park which supports our sustainability ambitions and provides easy links to country-wide transportation networks,” said Niels B. Christiansen, CEO of the LEGO Group. “We are also looking forward to creating fantastic employment opportunities for the people of Virginia.”
While the solar park plans for the factory site are impressive, the solar array will not be providing all of the energy the factory needs to operate. Instead, as a carbon-neutral facility, it will still run in part by fossil fuels, as Clean Technica explains. The plan is for the factory to minimize energy needs in order to match the output of clean energy provided by the solar park.
The upcoming factory is slated to open in 2025 and will employ around 1,760 people. This is the first time LEGO has operated in the U.S. in 16 years. Its first-ever U.S. factory in Connecticut shuttered in 2006, with operations moving to Mexico at that time.
According to the company, the factory in Monterrey, Mexico and the upcoming facility in Virginia are positioned to reduce travel emissions for the LEGO products.
“Our factories are located close to our biggest markets which shortens the distance our products have to travel,” said company COO Carsten Rasmussen. “This allows us to rapidly respond to changing consumer demand and helps manage our carbon footprint.”
The project will take over 340 acres of land, and the onsite buildings will span a total of 1.7 million square feet. Construction is expected to begin in fall of 2022, and the LEGO Group is pursuing LEED Gold certification for the factory. This will be the company’s seventh factory in the world, with additional facilities in China, Hungary, Czech Republic, and an under-construction factory in Vietnam.
In recent years, the LEGO Group has made sustainability a higher priority for its operations and its products, which one study found can last in ocean waters for 1,300 years before breaking down. Eco-conscious children have further pushed the LEGO Group to reduce its plastic use, including a successful petition in 2020 that led the company to begin phasing out single-use plastics in its products. Additional efforts in finding plastic alternatives and recycling more PET for LEGO bricks are also underway.