Chrysler Trenton Engine South

Chrysler Corporation
Trenton, Michigan
630,000 square feet
BEI Associates/Harley Ellis Devereaux
Construction Management

Just like the vehicles they produce, manufacturing facilities aren’t what they used to be.

One thing that differentiates 21st-century automakers from their predecessors is the desire to be eco-friendly. And just as they’re striving to build energy-efficient, attractive vehicles, auto companies are also striving to build energy-efficient and clean facilities. Adopting a large-scale, green manufacturing concept, Chrysler built Trenton Engine South, which later became the first, all-encompassing automotive production complex to earn LEED® Gold certification through the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program.

When it comes to constructing auto-manufacturing facilities, Walbridge has the know-how. That’s why Chrysler hired Walbridge to provide construction management services for its 630,000-square-foot engine manufacturing facility, located 25 miles south of the Motor City, in Trenton, Mich. With Trenton Engine South, Chrysler can manufacture 660,000 fuel-efficient V6 engines a year, while leaving minimal impact on the environment. Compared to older facilities of its size, this project exemplifies ecological consciousness.

Here’s why:

  • Yearly carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are reduced by more than 12,000 metric tons – the equivalent of 1,000 households
  • Energy usage has been lowered by 39 percent, which saves the automaker $1.25 million every year
  • Water usage is reduced by 1.5 million gallons each year – the amount needed to fill 68 average-sized swimming pools
  • The heat-island effect on surrounding environments is minimized, thanks to native plantings, a “cool” white roof and the use of light-colored hardscape materials

Creating the Gold Standard for Green Buildings

Chrysler’s engine production complex in Trenton includes a 560,000-square-foot engine plant, 30,000-square-foot material handling building, 25,000-square-foot administration building and 15,000-square-foot energy center. Walbridge delivered the final product to Chrysler at 10 percent below the original budget. Prior to housing the complex, the brownfield site held a parking lot. The scope of work included site preparation and the installation of utilities, process pits and equipment foundations. Manufacturing processes included a data center, tool stores and tool room areas.

Trenton Engine South is part of Chrysler’s Phoenix Engine Program, designed to build powerful, economic six-cylinder engines. The complex received LEED® Gold certification in 2009.

Defeating uncertainties

On-time delivery is a value proposition delivered by Walbridge project teams. In the case of Trenton Engine South, groundbreaking on the project was delayed while final site selection was being made. Therefore, while preliminary planning could begin, site-specific design was halted until a location was secured.

Building to meet the client’s expectation for long-term return on investment poses specific challenges. But constructing to meet LEED® Gold certification adds even more complexity. When it comes to building “Gold” manufacturing facilities in the green world, there are many tasks to check off, not only during planning stages, but also throughout months of actual construction.

An aggressive schedule was put into place to ensure the project team met its milestones. While a final site was being determined, the project team went to work on every element of the project it could, short of knowing where exactly they’d be building. During that time, a great relationship was formed between Walbridge, the architect and the client; and adjustments were made so the project would be finished when expected.

The project team incorporated a robust waste management plan, which ultimately diverted more than 90 percent of construction waste from landfills during work at Trenton Engine South. In addition, Walbridge used nearly 45 percent of recycled materials to build the facility. More than 80 percent of all construction materials were purchased from within a 500-mile radius, which reduced travel and unnecessary carbon impact. Walbridge also utilized its proprietary 18-item GreenWISE (Walbridge Intelligent Sustainability and Environmental program) checklist to ensure the greenest possible construction site.

Chrysler not only has a modern, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility to produce six-cylinder engines; but Trenton Engine South also brought the automaker its very first LEED® certified production facility. This project also yielded a milestone for Walbridge as the first massive manufacturing facility it constructed to achieve LEED® Gold certification.

Perhaps most importantly, though, the Trenton complex showcases the positive, long-lasting changes automakers are making in manufacturing innovation, building technology and sustainable design.