• Ralph Isenberg

Six Simple Upgrades To Make Your Warehouse More Eco-Friendly

Updated: Oct 11


Going green isn’t just good for the environment, it can save your business serious money as well. Here are a few simple ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle more for your warehouse.

Insulation

Making better use of the resources you use to cool/heat the place will save you plenty on electricity. Warehouses tend to be large metal or concrete buildings. Concrete already has some natural insulation, but not metal. Adding some insulation to the metal will help you out in a few different areas:

  • Insulation will maintain a constant temperature. This saves you money with seasonal and day-to-day temperature change.

  • Depending on the reasons for climate control, what’s being stored in the warehouse will be better off. Some goods don’t like temperature fluctuations. Some goods are fine in changing temperatures, but may have issues with moisture or dryness when temps change.

  • Working conditions in the warehouse will stay constant throughout the day.

  • Humidity levels are easier to manage in general with good climate control.

Energy efficient equipment

Pay attention to how much electrical power your warehouse equipment uses. Some equipment, for example low-torque, low-rpm motors, probably are relatively-low power draws. Large machines will have much higher wattage requirements. See what you can power with electricity alone, rather than being dependent on oil and gas. Of course oil and gas will always have their place, but try to use them in more-high-efficiency situations. The future isn’t electric only, it’s a hybrid of the best technologies.

When getting new equipment:

  • Ensure the new product performs exactly as you need it, but with a lower or more sustainable power draw.

  • Pay attention to gallons (of fuel) used per hour when replacing equipment to get the most efficient new machines.

  • Ensure you have a good maintenance plan for new gear. Properly maintained gear will last longer and perform more efficiently.

What are some specific equipment changes that are good ideas?

  • Consider changing your lights to LEDs. Lights are on for pretty much the entirety of a warehouse’s working hours. LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) are far more efficient than standard lightbulbs. They produce brighter light with lower energy draw. LEDs can use 75% less electricity than incandescent lighting. Standard lightbulbs lose 90% of their energy as heat, LEDs are efficient by not having that heat loss. Additionally, LEDs can last 30 times longer than standard light bulbs. They can last 3-5 times longer than fluorescent lamps.

  • Electric forklifts can save money vs propane-powered forklifts. They have a lower hourly money/power draw, are quieter, and need less maintenance. However, they are more expensive up-front, and they often deliver less torque. Remember to ensure your new equipment matches or exceeds the requirements of the old.

  • HVLS (High Volume Low Speed) fans are fantastic for ensuring good airflow. You can cut down on heating, ventilation, and air conditioning costs as well. Heaters must work much harder to supply heat when there is no convection (upward air flow). In the winter, the warm air collects in the upper levels of a warehouse, above where people and goods are. HVLS fans ensure that there is a large quantity of flow. They are particularly good at maintaining convection in warehouses with high ceilings.

Consider making your warehouse bonded

A bonded warehouse is one in which dutiable (international) goods may be stored. With the global disruption in shipping thanks to the COVID-19 crisis and the war in Ukraine, anything that enables goods to move across borders more easily helps.

  • It may be more sustainable to have raw materials shipped from the nearest location. This may be a port or a facility in a nearby foreign country. Using closer materials suppliers cuts down on travel time and fuel requirements.

  • Your warehouse will have more options in materials sourcing. Access to foreign countries opens up new possibilities from national options alone.

  • Typically, duty (import tax) is not paid on materials in the warehouse until they are sold to a buyer.

Sell waste (if you can)

Rather than seeing wood, glass, or metal go to a landfill, find out if someone wants to buy it. For example, glass fabricators can sell waste glass from their facilities. It doesn’t matter what shape it is in, because it will be crushed down to fine powder. The glass powder is then used in all sorts of materials, including make up, concrete, ceramics, fiberglass, and more. Similar things go for wood waste. Wood can also be pulverized into a pulp and sold. Scrap metal just about always has a market as well.

Water recycling

This may seem difficult, but recycling some water is easy. Start by collecting what’s known as grey water. This is water that has been used in bathtubs, handwashing sinks, washing machines, and showers. Unlike toilet water or cooking water, this water is non-toxic and disease-free. If you have the means to collect it, it can be used in toilets, irrigation, and laundry. Of course, the grey water will need to be treated first, including disinfecting. In a household, about 50-80% of the water produced is grey water. Grey water doesn’t always have to be treated, it can be routed directly from a washing machine to be used in a toilet. In a warehouse or factory, that might be different, because it is primarily an industrial building. Reusing grey water may be a bit more difficult than the other pointers in this list, but it has many bonuses.

Benefits of using grey water are include:

  • Reduced freshwater extraction from aquifers.

  • Less impact on wastewater facilities.

  • Topsoil where grey water is used receives more nutrients.

  • Reduced use of chemical pollutants in large scale water treatment facilities.

  • Better surface and groundwater.

Use recyclable or green packaging

Warehouses typically see goods come in, get packaged, and then leave. Not all packaging has to be plastic though. Some companies, such as Dell Computers, use mushroom packaging. This saves on styrofoam environmental waste and cost, as the packaging can be grown in-house.

Obviously cardboard and paper are recyclable. If your warehouse is recycling them, you are saving on taking that material to the landfill.

One of the most important things to recycle is metal. Many metals, such as aluminum, are 100% recyclable. Once they are mined from the earth, they can stay in the economy forever. So, recycle what you can, but make sure you recycle metal waste.

Looking for a construction contractor who can help you go green?

Reliable Commercial Construction has been in the business for over 35 years. We are a commercial contractor who never tires of relentless service. Some of our construction styles involve tried and true methods, like tilt-up. However, we are also up-to-date and on the cutting edge of new ways to save money. If you are considering anything from better insulation to installing solar panels, don’t hesitate to contact us today. Don’t just do it for the environment. Save yourself some money.