Sustainability is an ever-evolving concept and even Brandix, whose pioneering eco-factory opened in 2008, needs to work to retain its cutting edge as others nip at its heels.

Brandix's Eco Centre, which was opened to much fanfare four years ago, will have to continue improving its eco-credentials if it wants to maintain its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification.

The company, which was the first apparel factory to gain LEED Platninum status when it opened in 2008, scoring 76 out of 84 points after three months of monitoring, will have to reach 80 points and be monitored for a year to maintain its status when its certification comes up for renewal next year.

Manojini Ratajake, the site's environmental manager, told just-style it continues to make progress in energy use, water and waste management.

The major change that will come this time around will see the company look to install renewable energy in the form of solar panels. It has already converted one boiler to a biomass boiler, reducing its carbon footprint even further.

Ratajake said the company currently uses 65% less water, and while it might not be able to save much more, there might be more it can do with processed water. And with the company already diverting some 99% of waste from landfill, she believes there is not much more it can do on that front.

The site, which employs 1,400 people, also has a strong ethical focus. While staff work from 7:30am to 6:30pm, they make overtime from 4:30pm onwards. They also receive free breakfasts, subsidised lunches and there is a medical centre on site as well as a full-time counsellor to help the workers, many of whom come from rural areas, adjust to urban life.

The company is also set to introduce its own eco-index from the beginning of 2013. The index will cover environment, business and people, according to Iresha Somarathna, Brandix's head of environment and energy managment.

He told just-style the move will give the group's factories a common platform against which to measure their performance.

When asked why the group is setting up its own index rather than using an established one, for example the Sustainable Apparel Coalition's (SAC) Higg Index, Somarathna said: "Some aspects go hand in hand with the Higg Index but in other aspects, like energy and water, we have a much more advanced model."

The index that Brandix is developing is more targeted to the manufacturing side and is creating a "good tool for others to follow", with "good mathematical models so we can work with other companies," said Somarathna.

He emphasised that while its eco-factory is its flagship model for sustainable manufacturing, other factories in the group have taken on many of the same systems. 

For instance, 90% of its factories use skylights and similar air cooling systems. "They might not have the cosmetic part, but we have implemented the functional elements in 90% of our factories," he emphasised, adding that there's not much difference between the eco-factory and the company's other sites.