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Fertilizer Company Selects Eco-Friendly Pipe Solution for LEED Gold Headquarters

Geothermal, Chilled, Condenser Water, Snowmelt
Products Used
Blue Pipe®
Location / Date
St. John’s, MI,
Summer 2013-Spring 2014

Aquatherm Advantages

  • Ownership was drawn to PP-R's lifecycle benefits vs. other pipe systems
  • On a fast-track project, Aquatherm provided labor time savings thanks to heat fusion and its lighter weight
  • Aquatherm Blue Pipe® was not insulated on several applications, whereas steel would have been
  • Ownership embraced the corrosion- and scale-resistance and exceptional flow rates PP-R offers

The Challenge

Seeking a LEED Gold rating, the design team sought a pipe system that would be eco-friendly, leak-free, and long-lasting, for its geothermal, chilled, condenser water, and snowmelt systems

The Solution

After careful consideration, Aquatherm was selected to meet those needs, and it also provided labor savings despite this being the first PP-R job for all parties involved


One of the biggest buildings in St. John's, MI is the legacy of a small entrepreneurial company that came to fruition.

The Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers story began in 1963 when Douglas Cook had a vision to create a natural fertilizer to improve farmers' crops. Cook started his business with three employees mixing fertilizer in buckets in his garage. Fifty years and 97 additional employees later, the company is now recognized as a pioneer in the industry and continues to expand across the U.S. and in other countries. With distribution and manufacturing centers across the nation and a mission to "prosper the farmer," the new corporate headquarters was built with great concern for the environment and the agriculturalist.

The nearly 60,000-sq-ft headquarters building reflects a modern-yet-rural ethos and achieved LEED Gold status with 60 LEED credits. Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers displays its company culture in the very building in which employees work, with natural light, repurposed barn wood, and even upcycled crushed brick from a smokestack at Michigan State University serving as the base for HVAC equipment. Not only is the brick environmentally friendly (contributing to LEED points), but it also commemorates the owner’s alma mater.

“LEED certification is important to Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers because we care about the sustainability of our environment. Our focus is on being environmentally responsible with our fertilizer and in everything we do,” said Agro’s Vice President of Operations and Organizational Development, Nick Bancroft.

An indirect contributor to the Gold status was Aquatherm’s polypropylene-random (PP-R) piping system, which is fully recyclable, rust- and corrosion-free and long-lasting. Additionally, the polypropylene material requires less energy for initial production than other piping materials and involves none of the environmental effects associated with mining operations.

Agro selected Wieland-Davco (Lansing, MI), a firm that made Engineering News-Record magazine’s 2013 Top 400 Contractors List, as the general contractor for the project. According to Joe Haupt, project manager for Wieland-Davco, the project construction was on a tight schedule. The design process began in January 2012. About 500 people, including 50 subcontractors, were involved in building the two-story, 59,740-sq-ft headquarters. The actual construction process, which began in June 2013, took a little over a year.

“It was a very fast track project,” Haupt said. “We had our footings and foundations started before the design of the facility was 100% completed. We knew that the footprint was locked in. We weren’t going to change that but they were still designing while they were inputting the foundations just so we could meet our schedule. So, it was pretty aggressive.”