Achieving energy efficiency in warehouses and distribution centers

Logistics has developed into a science of efficiency. But these days, distribution center efficiency is about far more than how fast you get your orders out the door. Long-term cost efficiencies require specifying for materials, building systems and designs that will provide energy savings and lasting operational cost savings.

Especially when considering how many warehouses must be heated, cooled or controlled for humidity, designing for energy efficiency becomes that much more important. The Korte Company has long-term energy savings in mind on every job, combining proven green building techniques and decades of experience as a leading Design-Build contractor.

Capturing ROI with green construction methods

Early-stage design considerations like utilizing Tilt-Up walls and standing seam metal roofs get your project off to the right start.

Tilt-Up concrete panels are poured on-site then tilted up into place, allowing for airtight seals and continuous insulation that provide long-term energy savings. Standing seam metal roofs, made from metal panels that run straight from your roof’s ridge to the eaves, eliminate seams. They can also be painted to reflect light and prevent solar heat gain. These roofs also are ready-made to support solar panels.

Smart lighting

Efficient zone lighting also delivers ROI. And it’s not just about specifying the right bulbs. In modern distribution centers, you can set up automated lighting controls that work in conjunction with warehouse activity. Lighting can be programmed to turn on when there’s activity in specified zones and to turn off during downtime. The lighting zones can be as big or small as needed, and the savings are significant.

Other lighting solutions include daylighting and passive solar design. By orienting your facility in an optimal way and designing the right windows and skylights, architectural designers can use the sun to both light and heat much of your facility. In addition to energy savings, research has shown that these solutions improve worker morale and productivity while reducing sick time taken.

Worker comfort and energy savings

The Korte Company incorporates innovative design elements that improve the comfort of those working in distribution centers, like indoor docks for unloading during cold weather. Distribution centers are largely “skin load” facilities, where energy loss and consumption are most affected by open areas that let heat in and out. Indoor docks help save energy and costs during winter.

We also design to reduce the need for expansive rooftop HVAC systems. Methods include using: 

  • Solar panels that can achieve relatively fast payback and ROI, not only through energy savings but also in the form of government grants, rebates and utility credits.
  • Ceiling mounted fans that reduce heat stratification and promote both airflow and worker comfort.
  • Additional insulation, which has a highly predictable ROI that makes it easy to invest in the optimal amount of insulation.
  • Smart planning and design principles to eliminate thermal bridges, a major source of heat loss, energy waste and unnecessary costs.

But the most important element of achieving energy-efficiency savings is communicating with your project team and providing accurate details of how you intend to use your facility.

With this information in mind, The Korte Company’s team will design a warehouse or distribution facility that accounts for how much energy you will use and better identify key opportunities for capturing savings.

Keeping costs in check keeps facilities lean and healthy, and it starts long before ground is ever broken. Contact us for a consultation on your next distribution center project, and learn more about maximizing sustainable ROI in green construction by downloading the guide below. 

This article originally appeared on Distribution Center Magazine.

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