A recent article over on Logistics Management, which was titled 7 Trends in Sustainable Design but which only gave six (as number six was absent from the list), gave some good tips on making the warehouse more sustainable that can be retroactively applied to existing warehouses.
- Better Lighting
Lighting can consume 30% of energy use in a DC. If you reduce this by 33%, that’s 10% off of your energy consumption. And when you consider that many DCs have too many lights that take too much power on for way too long, you see huge opportunities. Be sure to install daylight and motion sensors to make sure that lights only come on when it’s not sufficiently bright and only stay on when there is someone there. Switch to energy-efficient fluorescent fixtures, which can be turned on and off on demand (and are suitable for intermittent operation). And if any renovations are being done, install solar tubes, lighting tubes, and clear glass to take maximum advantage of natural daylight.
- High-Volume Low-Speed Fans
Designed to move massive columns of air at low speeds, HVLS fans can help regulate a facility’s temperature year-round from floor to ceiling and permit facilities to increase or decrease thermostat temperature settings between 3 degrees and 5 degrees without realizing any negative temperature changes. Furthermore, if they are networked, monitored, and controlled from a central location, cooling and heating costs can be decreased by up to 50%!
- Returnable Plastic Containers (RPCs)
At the very least, use RPCs in internal captive pools designed for a particular (set) of operations, or, if possible, in external shared pools with standardized designs that enable supply chain wide efficiencies. These can minimize operating costs (as non-reusable containers cost money) and minimize waste reduction (by 90% plus), which further reduces costs.
In addition, the following tips not mentioned are also applicable:
- Use Electric Lifts
Fuel-based lift trucks use non-renewable resources and produce pollution, which increases the air circulation requirements of the warehouse (and demands even more energy be used). Electric lift trucks produce no pollution and the batteries can be recharged from renewable energy resources.
- Harvest Your Own Power
Use ground source heat pumps, solar panels (on the roof/sides of the building) and/or windmills to maximize the use of your own free, sustainable energy sources and minimize your dependence on the grid.
- Harvest Rainwater
And use it for cleaning vehicles, flushing toilets, and other toilets where the water does not have to be pure or sufficiently chlorinated.