Using environmentally focused procedures is not only socially responsible, it can save your company money as well. Not to mention that “going green” is no longer just a trend- the green revolution has taken root in society ‘s general consciousness and has become a mainstream movement. And for the millennial (and younger) generation especially, sustainability is a core value. With millennials on the verge of having the largest wallet power in U.S. history, it’s a wise businessperson who makes the changes necessary to satisfy these customers. And besides, greening up is just the right thing to do. Is your warehouse green? Could it be greener? Even if you are not in a position to construct a brand new LEED certified building, there are many measures you can take to save money, qualify for incentives, and most importantly, help the planet. Here’s a look at some energy conservation tips for contributing to an eco-friendly environment at your facility.
“LED ‘s” (CC BY 2.0) by Kevin Doncaster
In addition to numerous large windows, skylights and light tubes are economical ways to introduce lots of natural daylight into your warehouse and cut electricity bills.
Where artificial lighting is needed, use LED fixtures for the most energy efficient lighting solutions. LEDs are also the most cost-efficient in the long run despite the higher initial cost because they offer a 50 percent (or more) direct energy savings over fluorescent technology and up to 75% over metal halide and high pressure sodium lamps. LEDs also have a longer operating life, and they stay cool which can also save energy (and are an an excellent choice for cold storage.)
Timers, Sensors & Dimmers
Use occupancy sensors in low traffic areas to trigger lights to turn on only when people are there. Use light level sensors or manual dimmers in areas that utilize natural light, adjusting them according to the time of day and the amount of additional light needed.
Opt for galvanized steel* finishes in your warehouse whenever possible. Unlike painted finishes, which absorb light, galvanized steel is light reflective and can really brighten the warehouse, allowing you to depend less on artificial lighting. Galvanized steel is also 100% recyclable.
*Galvanized steel base plates and braces are standard on all Next Level pallet rack uprights; however, all upright components are available in galvanized steel by special order.
Heating & Cooling
“Big ass fan.” (CC BY 2.0) by uberculture
While lighting typically makes the largest contribution to the peak demand in a non-refrigerated warehouse, it ‘s also important to consider the effects that cooling and heating place on peak demand during more extreme weather conditions.
A warehouse roof can be one of the biggest contributors to energy inefficiency because it soaks up solar heat. While the roof’s ability to absorb heat in the winter can be an advantage, the wintertime benefit of a traditional roof is often outweighed by the summertime cost. A cool roof system absorbs less of the sun’s heat and it also radiates a large percentage of the energy it does absorb back into the sky, making it a good solution for refrigerated warehouses regardless of the climate. For dry warehouses, cool roofs will still help to lower your energy consumption and air conditioning costs, and if there is no air conditioning in the facility, a cool roof will make the building more comfortable for workers.
High-volume low-speed (HLVS) ceiling fans operate on very little energy and they save energy by improving air circulation. They can also lower the temperature in an air-conditioned space. With diameters from 8 to 24 feet, these slow-moving fans circulate air better than smaller, higher-velocity fans. HLVS fans also reduce heating costs in winter by recirculating the warmer air near the ceilings. To save even more energy, consider a solar model.
Open doors create a large portal for energy loss in any warehouse. By having well insulated, high-speed doors you can save a lot of money from energy escape. Be on the lookout for poorly fitting doors and windows and gaps around wall penetrations. If a door must remain open, consider an air curtain which can reduce up to 80% of energy loss through a doorway. Air curtains offer a quick return on your investment.
The loading dock can be a huge source of energy loss. Dock doors and levelers can become damaged by forklifts, creating gaps along the frame and compromised seals. Regularly check and repair any gaps in seals and consider using double-loop compression seals that attach to the door panel for an effective seal. Consider upgrading to a fully impactable dock door to keep air from escaping.
More Energy Conservation Tips
- Opting for battery-powered forklifts can reduce your carbon footprint and can save you money on repairs because of the reduced load on your exhaust fans and ventilation systems.
- Paved surfaces store heat and release it later in the day which can affect temperature of your warehouse considerably. Reducing the amount of paved surfaces around the exterior, and planting trees to create shaded areas will cut some of the external heating that can take a toll on your facility’s energy consumption.
- Join a demand-response energy program to improve energy efficiency at all levels by cutting back energy use during peak grid times. Customers who save energy during peak hours may receive credit on their next bill, or they may simply avoid getting dinged by rate increases that utilities often charge during peak hours or events. Either type of compensation can offer a big savings for a warehouse!
- Conveyors can often consume large amounts of energy. Turn off sections of your conveyor system that are not in use at specific times.