Made in the City

Made in the City

How a new factory became a part of one of our oldest manufacturing towns.


By Nicolette Mueller


In February 2015, President Obama designated the Pullman Factory District, a neighborhood in Chicago’s South Side, as the Windy City’s first national park. Established in the 1880s as a manufacturing center and company town for the Pullman Palace Car Company, the neighborhood has a rich history in the labor rights and civil rights movements.

It’s also home to the new manufacturing facility for Method, the company known for its products that are as “kind to the planet as they are tough on dirt.” Designed by McDonough + Partners, the factory is located on 22 acres of space in the heart of the Pullman neighborhood, and will likely soon become the first LEED Platinum manufacturing facility in the consumer packaged goods industry and one of only a dozen LEED-certified manufacturing facilities worldwide.

Like the luxury Pullman cars of the halcyon days of rail travel, this facility, too, is beautiful, complete with its onsite renewable energy from wind and solar, plans for the world’s largest rooftop farm, dedicated acres for native plants and habitat, and the extraordinary energy and water efficiency that are

Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry, founders of Method Products PBC.

hallmarks of LEED Platinum projects. But maybe the best part of the story about Method’s factory is about location, location, location. The impact on local jobs, the local economy, and bringing manufacturing back inside the city limits in a safe and sustainable way is the real success story behind Method’s new space.

When Method asked commercial real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield’s Global Business Consulting group to find a site for its new factory, the team focused on how to leverage the power of business to create green jobs and opportunities in the heart of the city. Method co-founder and Chief Greenskeeper, Adam Lowry, notes, “We wanted to build our manufacturing facility within a community that could benefit positively from its presence. The world is urbanizing rapidly, so cities in particular are in need of businesses that can help revitalize their economies and communities. Building a world-class sustainable manufacturing facility gave us the opportunity to demonstrate how business can contribute to urban revitalization, community building, and the world around us.”

The Method factory has brought nearly a hundred new manufacturing jobs to Chicago’s South Side and has a recruitment strategy to target the talent in the Pullman community. These are jobs that won’t require workers to commute by car outside the city, saving valuable time, money, and natural resources and lessening congestion on Chicago’s roads and freeways.

By helping Method site its factory in the city, Cushman & Wakefield’s contribution to the project has upped its sustainability ante. Not only does it sit on a restored brownfield site, but it also infuses a new vitality into an old urban community that can benefit greatly from the new green economy. The close connectivity to the community and to transportation will help bring raw materials to Method and transport finished products to stores across the country.*

The facility will help pave the way for the future of urban agriculture. A 75,000-square-foot (1.72 acres) rooftop greenhouse installation is designed to grow up to one million pounds of fresh produce annually, which will be sold to local restaurants and be available to the surrounding community though produce markets.  A 230 foot 600kW wind turbine produces about 30 percent of the factory’s energy, and three solar trees each with 60PV modules can supply 45.9 kW of energy. Solar thermal collectors provide hot water for hand washing and some factory processes. Stormwater from paved surfaces is captured in bioswales where it can filter back into the ground and the south wall of the factory is highly transparent giving workers a strong visual connection to the outdoors while providing an abundance of daylight.

It’s more than a factory–it’s a blueprint for the future in bringing manufacturing back to the city. As Lowry says, “We hope our facility serves as a model for what manufacturing and urban renewal can look like in the 21st century.”

Click here to read more about bringing industry back into urban areas and incorporating LEED principles into site selection for industrial facilities, check out the white paper by Matthew Poreba from Cushman & Wakefield’s Global Business Consulting group.