Sri Lankan garment maker The Hirdaramani Group plans to build a green factory this year and invest in a project to make all of its existing factories more environmentally friendly, just-style has learnt.

The green factory will be called CKT Apparel, and construction will start towards the end of June, costing approximately $5m. The factory will be ready for commercial operations by April 2008.

To ensure green standards in the design of the new factory, Hirdaramani is planning on getting LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification from the US Green Building Council.

Arjuna Kuruppu, the CEO of the Hirdaramani Knit Cluster, said: "No other factory in Sri Lanka has got this certification so far. We are now in consultation with the LEED certified engineer for South Asia about the factory design. We will be able to substantially reduce the carbon footprint with this."
 
The new facility will supply men's, women's and children's knitwear for buyers like Marks & Spencer, Columbia, Nike, Eddie Bauer and Tommy Hilfiger and Polo Ralph Lauren, that are among the groups largest customers.

The factory is expected to have a monthly capacity of around 35,000 dozen items of clothing and is expected to provide jobs for around 1,200 people in the Kalutara district where the factory will be located.

The group's other factories will also be made more environmentally friendly starting with reduced energy consumption and water conservation.

"The new green factory will be the benchmark. We will gradually convert all our factories here as well as overseas into green standards," added Kuruppu.
 
The Hirdaramani Group owns eight garment factories in Sri Lanka and leases another eight. The group also operates one garment factory in Vietnam, two in Bangladesh and one in India - some as joint ventures. The group also has embroidery, printing and washing plants and a product development centre.

By Dilshani Samaraweera.