Resurgence of Sustainable Design in Warehouses and Distribution Centers

The construction of new warehouses and distribution centers is taking place, this time, with an emphasis on making them more environmentally friendly. Why is having a sustainable design more valuable now than ever before?

During the construction boom of the mid 2000’s, when both the price of property and energy where increasing rapidly, most people in warehousing and distribution were discussing how to retrofit or construct greener warehouses and distribution centers (DC), and there was a plethora of energy efficient designs. However, once the recession hit, attention was diverted to away from sustainability.

Some say that the interest in green and sustainable warehouses did not disappear off the agenda completely, and it was due to the fact that all types of development were put on hold while executives sought to make short-term solutions in a fierce economic environment. However, there was still a minority of businesses making some long-term decisions about warehouse and DC construction.

Recent statistics show within the past few years, their construction is making a full recovery and the desire to make new-builds green and sustainable is still alive. Most new projects are dominated by features that are sustainable and intended to save energy, with many being certified by the U.S Green Building Council under the LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) initiative. By December 2013, the council had issued LEED certificate number 20,000.

Of all the warehouse and DC construction work taking place now, as much as 80% is sustainable, with a smaller fraction gaining the LEED approval. The biggest reason for making DC’s green is still the energy savings, and new builds can be as much as 40% more energy efficient than their older counterparts—and this figure rises to 50% when HVAC systems are taken into account.

Other motives for going green have to do with programs for corporate social responsibility and presenting the brand in the best possible way, but these are secondary to the benefits of a more favorable bottom line. Further savings are made where the new builds are part of a well-designed infrastructure network. The benefits of going green are still evolving, but sustainable design is more valuable now than ever before.

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