RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – United Therapeutics Corporation (Nasdaq: UTHR), a public benefit corporation, earlier this week unveiled its new net zero energy distribution center located on the company’s co-headquarters campus in Research Triangle Park.
United Therapeutics Chairperson and CEO Dr. Martine Rothblatt welcomed North Carolina officials, members of the North Carolina General Assembly, and business leaders to a “cord cutting” ceremony to showcase the new distribution center. Dubbed “Phase Five,” the new building is the second site net zero building on the company’s Research Triangle Park Campus, and the fifth overall in its sustainable portfolio. The 55,000-square-foot facility features a new warehouse designed to meet current good manufacturing practices (cGMP) for pharmaceutical products and boasts a microgrid-based electrical system designed to run without any fossil fuels via battery backup using two Tesla Megapacks. Among other things, the facility will be used to store and distribute the company’s newest drug-device combination product, Tyvaso DPI®, which was launched last year. To store pharmaceutical products, a cGMP facility must meet exacting standards for 24/7 temperature control, making a net zero design an especially challenging goal.
“As far as we are aware, this is the first cGMP warehouse designed to meet site net zero energy standards. Achieving this goal required extensive collaboration with the city and county of Durham and with our local electric utility, Duke Energy,” said Dr. Rothblatt. “We are extremely grateful to all our employees and collaborators who worked tirelessly to design and construct this facility, which is one of the keys to supporting our near-term revenue growth expectations.”
“We’re proud to serve as home to a company known not just for its life-changing therapies, but also for its environmental stewardship—and this innovative distribution center exemplifies how North Carolina corporations can lead the way in sustainability,” said North Carolina Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders. “We greatly appreciate United Therapeutics’ partnership and its continued investment in North Carolina’s life sciences industry.”
Key details for the zero net energy distribution center include:
- A geothermal system consisting of 40 vertical bores, each six inches in diameter and 500 feet deep. The system uses core earth temperatures to regulate building systems and environmental conditions and is designed to add future capacity if needed.
- A microgrid with battery backup using Tesla Megapacks that provide 6.2 MWh of battery capacity to support the building through an outage of two-plus days without utility power, using zero fossil fuels.
- A roof-mounted photovoltaic (PV) system includes 1,200 PV panels with 560 kW peak output and 767 MWh of projected annual production and net metering with Duke Energy, the local electric utility. The PV system is connected to the project’s microgrid and can recharge the Tesla Megapack when the building electrical system is disconnected from the utility, allowing the facility to operate for an extended period. This results in a design that does not include a standby generator.
- Smart building technology, including lighting occupancy sensors in strategic locations, ENERGY STAR-certified office equipment, and regenerative charging lift trucks.
Engineering, architectural, and construction firms for the project include: Hanbury Architects, Affiliated Engineers, Inc., DPR Construction, Stranix Associates, Surface 678, PA, and Cornerstone Commissioning, Inc.