Mars Chocolate North America, the snack division of Mars North America, recently unveiled its renovated headquarters in Hackettstown, N.J., home to 1,200 employees. Among the upgrades to 25-year-old facility, which produces M&Ms brand chocolate candies, were a number of sustainable technologies, including the opening of a 16-acre solar garden.

The solar garden, a partnership between Mars Chocolate North America and PSEG Solar Source, comprises more than 28,000 solar panels, making it the largest solar garden installed by a food manufacturer in New Jersey. It is expected to provide 2 MW of power during peak hours or 20 percent of the peak energy consumption at the Mars plant, and is expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more 1,000 metric tons.

Other sustainable initiatives at the revamped headquarters include low-flow faucets and fixtures that are expected to reduce water usage by more than 30 percent; an upgraded building energy management system as well as energy-efficient lighting and controls to reduce energy use by 15 percent; ventilation changes to circulate more fresh air; and increased natural light and outdoor views. Daylighting controls adjust lighting systems to capitalize on natural light, while environmentally preferred shading systems along the perimeter windows incorporate sensors and controls to reduce glare. The facility’s roof was updated to include reflective materials that offset direct heat gain, and its stone ballast was replaced and recycled. During construction, 75 percent of the project’s waste was diverted from landfills and recycled and, now that the facility is in operation, Mars has initiated recycling plans that aim for a zero-percent landfill policy for paper and plastics on site.

The 100,000-square-foot headquarters is applying for LEED Gold certification.