An illegal meth lab in a nondescript Wilson County mobile home has been granted Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, the first such lab in the country to have the coveted environmental seal of approval.
“I’m just, you know, happy about it, you know?” says the lab’s owner, who gives his name only as “Buster” during an interview in front of the rusty trailer, which sits at the end of a dirt road about 10 miles from I-40.
The production of methamphetamine typically involves the use of numerous noxious chemicals and produces several poisonous or explosive gases. To achieve LEED certification, a meth lab must install a complex series of scrubbers to clean the air before released. In addition, all liquid byproducts must be captured and disposed of at designated sites.
There were no standards for a LEED-certified meth lab until Buster contacted the U.S. Green Building Council, which oversees the certification process.
“It was a really innovative way to think, especially coming from some tweaker in the illegal drug trade,” says a spokesman at the council. “I wish the typical company building a skyscraper cared for the environment like Buster does.”
“We know that there are meth labs dotting this state, and anything we can do to reduce their environmental impact is a good thing,” says Jim Fyke, state commissioner for the Department of Environment and Conservation. “I’m real proud that Tennessee meth labs are becoming an environmental model for the nation.”
Buster says he was inspired to apply for LEED certification after watching a documentary on green buildings on TV.
“I just, you know, want to leave the world a better place than I found it,” he says, fidgeting and scratching his arms in a frantic fashion. “We must always think of the children.”
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