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Benefits of Greening the Warehouse

Going green or lean in your warehouse by streamlining processes and introducing cost saving initiatives can bring many benefits.  To stay competitive and be on the leading edge, going green is a win-win process.  Here are some steps to take to make your warehouse more energy-efficient, resulting in a smaller carbon footprint.

Lighting

The energy and carbon reduction firm Envido has discovered that the biggest expense in a warehouse is the lighting which can be as much as 65 percent of operating costs.

Intelligent lighting (using sensors) can be incorporated into your lighting system, resulting in as much as a 10 per cent decrease in lighting power consumption.  This type of system takes the available daylight and the occupancy in the building to determine whether lighting should be turned on and how much brightness is required.

Fluorescent lighting is more energy efficient than traditional light bulbs, and if you are willing to pay the extra expense, LED lighting is the most efficient option available.  The technology for LED lighting is moving quickly, so prices may come down in the next few years.  Skylights and solar panels are another way to introduce natural lighting to keep expenses down.  Installing lights closer to the work areas will also reduce the amount of lighting required.

Heating

Programmable thermostats are much more efficient than temperature-controlled thermostats.  Being able to program when the heat should come on instead of letting the temperature decide will result in major energy savings.

Consider adding more automation to your warehouse.  Having an automated warehouse requires less square footage, resulting in less energy to heat.  An industrial fan is a great way to circulate warm air.  When warm air rises, the fan will push it back down to the work areas.  The same is true in the summer when cool air rises.

Green or Living Roof

A living roof is a truly wonderful experience for the workplace, the environment and the community where you operate your business.  Not only does it reduce operating costs, but the benefits such as attracting birds to the vegetation provides a nice space for employees on lunch breaks.  Studies have shown that a living roof can reduce energy consumption by as much as 6 per cent and reduce indoor temperature by 3.6 degree Fahrenheit in the summer.  Solar panels installed on a living roof can produce up to 16 percent more energy than a regular roof.  Building a living roof may also qualify your company for tax breaks and lower municipal fees.

Forklifts

Forklifts are an integral part of any warehouse.  Using hydrogen fuel cells for your forklifts will result in greater productivity and reduced costs.  Fuel cells have the ability to store energy as hydrogen gas and convert to electricity when needed.  Costs are reduced by no longer having the need to purchase batteries or chargers, or pay for the manpower to maintain them.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

The 3 Rs can sometimes be overlooked, but they are very easy to implement to create a greener warehouse.  Reducing lighting and heating as mentioned above can have major cost savings.  Reduce paper by offering electronic invoices, and send products digitally if that makes sense for your goods.  Reuse incoming boxes by using labels to re-address. Bubble and paper wrapping can be reused, and remember to recycle if these items can’t be reused.

Encourage your employees to develop a green mindset.  Offer incentives and rewards for workers who come up with innovative and green solutions for the workplace.

By everyone doing their part to take care of the planet, your company will not go unnoticed by today’s consumers who are much more environmentally conscious.

 

Sources:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960148111006604

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