5 Ways to Reduce Energy Costs for Your Industrial Space

This article originally appeared in LoopNet on June 5, 2019.

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Efficiency Measures to Maximize Your Warehouse Operating Budget

Modern warehouses are changing. Driven by new consumer demands, today’s warehouses have transformed into sophisticated operations with robots and lightning-fast product turnover.

Demand for warehouse space has increased with the rise of e-commerce, while supply is limited due to a variety of factors including increased construction costs and scarcity of land, especially in last-mile locations.

With the cost to lease warehouse space increasing, tenants can look for other ways to cut their operating budgets. On average, energy use can burn up to 15% of a warehouse operating budget, and according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. warehouses spend on average $0.75 per square foot on energy expenditures. Here are five energy-saving measures tenants can take to control and lower these costs.

Space Utilization

Are you utilizing the space in your warehouse in the most efficient manner possible? Newer warehouses have ceiling heights of 32 feet and higher. If you are stacking your product on the floor or are not racking as high as possibly allowed, then you are wasting valuable space. Vertical space is the cheapest space you can buy and the most expensive to waste. Before you lease your space, do some space planning and test fits on the front end so you don’t end up leasing more space than you need. Consider creating mezzanine storage above your office buildout. Avoid heating, cooling and paying for wasted square footage—utilize every square foot you have.

Lighting with Sensors

In 2003, lighting accounted for nearly 38% of a typical warehouse’s electric bill. Today it accounts for less than 17%, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Developers understand the need for energy efficiency and are equipping new warehouses with the most energy-efficient LED lighting. LED lighting costs a little more upfront, but the savings over time can be as great 65% compared to fluorescent lighting when you combine the energy savings and bulb lifespan. Additionally, sensors can detect movement and automatically turn lights off in areas where workers are not present. If you are considering fluorescent lighting, be sure your selection will obtain 30-foot candles (a standard measurement of warehouse light intensity) at the floor. T5 bulbs are smaller but more efficient, and better for high bay use; T8 is fine to use for lower bay uses.

Natural Lighting

One of the easiest ways to increase lighting in your warehouse without paying for electricity is through skylights. Consider prismatic skylights to maximize your energy savings. These skylights completely diffuse sunlight by refracting it and spreading it throughout the warehouse and can reduce daytime electricity usage by up to 75% on a sunny day. An added benefit: natural light has been proven to increase worker productivity and satisfaction . In addition to skylights, consider painting the warehouse white to make the space appear brighter.

Seals & Insulated Doors

Upgrading dock doors to insulated doors will help keep climate-controlled air in and the temperature reasonable in the warehouse, especially in colder locations. Dock seals provide the same benefit, especially in warehouses that have high activity and product turnover. Doors should have tight seals and not loose-fitting shelters.

Air Circulation & Heating

Many warehouses are equipped with exhaust fans and ventilation systems to bring in fresh air. Exhaust fans should be placed near the center of the building and run only at night or in cooler temperatures. Running an exhaust fan in the middle of a hot day only brings in hot air and wastes energy.

Consider adding warehouse-grade ceiling fans to increase internal air circulation. These fans are quite large, but surprisingly do not use a lot of energy. In the summer, these fans can help cool the warehouse temperature by as much as five degrees; and in the winter, they help push warm air down. In addition to fans in the winter, consider radiant heating, especially in areas of high worker concentration and heat loss, like loading docks. With the velocity of product going through larger, taller buildings now, the energy to heat is a function of velocity, cube and space utilization.