The word sustainability has become commonplace in many warehouses across the country. As attitudes about the environment change, the push for warehouses to become more sustainable has only increased.
These efforts include avoiding waste, focusing on renewable resources, and limiting greenhouse emissions. Sustainability is a long-term goal that can only be met through gradual steps. However, there are important steps warehouses could take immediately to help meet the goal of sustainability sooner. If you are working toward sustainability in your warehouse, continue reading to learn about the steps you can take to create a sustainable business.
Installing native plants in the areas surrounding the exterior of a warehouse could be substantially beneficial. Trees could provide shade that keeps the building cool and reduce energy costs. Additionally, plants could mitigate water runoff following heavy rain, thereby reduce the risk of flooding and costly water damage to the warehouse grounds.
Containing storm runoff could also have a positive impact on local utilities that would otherwise strain with the overflow water. Not only is this good for the community, but some municipalities offer tax benefits for the strategic placement of these watersheds.
Sustainability can be improved without making major changes to the physical structure of a warehouse. The equipment used within the warehouse could also have a major impact on the environment.
For example, transitioning away from gas- and propane-powered forklifts and other material handling equipment (MHE) into electric power could improve a warehouse’s sustainability. While propane-powered MHEs offer additional lifting power, they have a higher carbon footprint than electric forklifts, for example, which are emissions-free.
Motion-sensor LED lights are another example of environmentally friendly equipment. LED lights in general require substantially less from an energy standpoint. By connecting these lights to motion sensors, additional energy savings are possible. These systems allow areas of the warehouse to go dark when they are unoccupied or unused, preventing substantial waste.
High-volume, low-speed industrial fans are also environmentally friendly and can be easily and strategically incorporated into a warehouse. These large fans can have the cooling power equal to air conditioning for a fraction of the energy cost. These fans are useful year-round, as they can be positioned to push warm air from the ceiling down to floor level.
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification is a commonly-used system for rating building sustainability. LEED offers guidelines for warehouses and other commercial buildings to promote efficiency and sustainability. Obtaining this certification is proof that a warehouse has taken the necessary steps to reduce emissions and limit energy costs.
One of the best opportunities for a warehouse to reduce emissions lies in its roof. An inadequate roof could skyrocket the energy costs of heating or cooling a facility, which not only has an environmental effect, but a financial one as well. The simplest fix is painting the roof white to reflect heat away from your facility.
While the federal government has not adopted a carbon tax in its efforts to combat climate change, some companies have begun voluntarily offsetting their emissions by planting of new trees. There are nonprofit organizations that can assist with identifying the number of trees a warehouse needs to plant to completely offset its carbon footprint. These efforts often target areas that have faced heavy deforestation in recent years.
Every building has its weak spots when it comes to energy conservation. Heat often escapes from inadequate seals around doors or through certain areas in the ceiling. Auditing a building to identify these weak points could provide a roadmap of how to reduce warehouse emissions and become more sustainable. The results of the audit could indicate ways to increase HVAC efficiency, address heat loss in colder months, or replace older lightbulbs with energy-saving LEDs.
Sustainability in a warehouse is not entirely a top-down effort. Employees in a warehouse can also improve sustainability by focusing on waste reduction – particularly with materials that are not biodegradable.
It is possible to improve sustainability in a warehouse from the ground up with both permanent and flex hour workers. If you are seeking experienced flex workers, HapiGig can help connect you with the right workers to help you meet your sustainability goals.