Even if the supply chain sector hadn’t had a global pandemic to contend with, 2020 was still marked by uncontrollable global wildfires and destructive storms. 2020 also tied for the hottest year on record, which climate scientists believe relates directly to the increase in severe weather events and other natural disasters experienced around the world. These disastrous events cause significant disruption in global supply chains, leading industry stakeholders to consider methods for reducing the environmental impact of production, transportation, and storage of goods.
As the negative effects of climate change continue to have a detrimental impact on the global supply chain, it’s essential that logistics operators pursue efforts to operate more sustainably.
Taking Climate Action in the Warehouse
Logistics providers and other warehouse operators can do our part by incorporating eco-friendly processes into our facilities. Here are some tips to help warehouse owners and lessees get started on building a greener warehouse.
Tip #1: Install Energy-Efficient Lighting
Traditional HID warehouse lighting draws a lot of power, driving up costs and wasting unnecessary energy. Switching to energy-efficient lighting isn’t just eco-friendly, it’s also budget friendly. LED lighting in the warehouse can reduce energy consumption from lighting by as much as 75 percent and save thousands of dollars annually in energy costs and maintenance needs. Many utility providers also offer rebates or incentives for incorporating energy-efficient lighting into commercial and industrial buildings.
LED lighting may also improve visibility in the warehouse compared to other types of lighting sources, providing a safer overall operating environment. Then again, why light the facility if nobody is there? Also consider adding motion-activated lighting to ensure that the lights turn off when employees have gone home for the day.
Tip #2: Improve Internal Climate Control
Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems can often be a big source of energy waste for a large industrial building. These systems often work overtime to maintain a preset temperature within the facility. Here are some practices you can incorporate into your warehouse to alleviate strain on your HVAC system and reduce its energy usage:
- Keep the doors closed. Propping doors open in the summer will reduce the effectiveness of your building’s air conditioning equipment. Conversely, propping doors opening in the winter will force your heating system to work harder. Make it a policy to keep doors closed.
- Use air curtains. In scenarios where doors must remain open, consider installing an air curtain. Air curtains blow air rapidly across the entirety of an opening, which prevents most external air from entering and internal air from getting out. These tools are also useful for minimizing temperature loss between temperature-controlled areas and other parts of the warehouse.
- Use strip curtains. Plastic strip curtains serve a similar purpose to air curtains. These PVC strips hang from openings to minimize airflow between two areas while still allowing people and equipment to pass through.
- Check dock door seals. Make sure your loading dock doors seal properly to avoid losing cooled or heated air from your facility. Also consider installing dock shelters to maintain better environmental control within your facility.
- Use better insulation. Though more expensive upfront, replacing old insulation in your building envelope with spray foam insulation will pay for itself over time by reducing your heating and cooling costs.
- Temperature sensors. Employing temperature sensors and automated HVAC controls will allow your HVAC system to automatically optimize your facility’s temperature. These controls and sensors also keep temperature-controlled storage areas optimized, ensuring safe conditions for storing food and other cold chain products.
Tip #3: Add Solar Panels
That big, flat roof on your warehouse is an ideal mounting surface for solar panels. The upfront cost of solar panel installation can be daunting for many warehouse owners, but the long-term benefits will ultimately outweigh the initial expense. You should break even on your solar installation in about eight years, while the average lifespan of a solar panel is well beyond that at about 25-30 years.
Additionally, many utility providers will provide incentives for reducing your building’s reliance on the power grid during peak usage periods. With a proper battery system and controls in place, you can virtually eliminate demand charges and significantly decrease your utility bill.
About Phoenix Investors
Founded by Frank Crivello in 1994, Milwaukee-based Phoenix Investors and its affiliates (collectively “Phoenix”) are a leader in the acquisition, development, renovation, and repositioning of industrial facilities throughout the United States. Utilizing a disciplined investment approach and successful partnerships with institutional capital sources, corporations and public stakeholders, Phoenix has developed a proven track record of generating superior risk adjusted returns, while providing cost-efficient lease rates for its growing portfolio of national tenants. Its efforts inspire and drive the transformation and reinvigoration of the economic engines in the communities it serves. Phoenix continues to be defined by thoughtful relationships, sophisticated investment tools, cost efficient solutions, and a reputation for success.