25 Ways to Reduce Carbon Footprint in Warehouse

Becoming sustainable is now a basic part of logistics around the world. Many modern warehouses are now going green.

Eco-friendly practices do not just save the planet. The benefits also extend to the owners and workers of a warehouse. Reduced energy use implies lower costs and better working conditions.

There are three main reasons for energy loss in a warehouse:

1. Lighting Control
2. Temperature Control
3. Waste Reduction
4. Other Ways

Further, the industry tends to produce high amounts of waste. Yet, tackling these issues is not as hard as one may think.

There are many methods that you can use to tackle each issue. Below are 25 methods that help you go green and save costs at the same time.


LIGHTING CONTROL


1. Install LED Lights

Many warehouses use traditional warm lights to this day. These lights are of higher wattage and consume high energy.

In comparison to other lighting solutions, LED lights save up to 75% more energy. A single bulb lights a great area.

LEDs can be costly to install. But they reduce power bills in the long run. If not, a CFL is another great option. A CFL is not as eco-friendly as an LED. But it is much better than an incandescent bulb.

2. Find Smart Lighting Solutions

Smart lights and wireless systems help save energy without any extra effort. A smart light adjusts the lights based on needs, on its own.

Smart lights have:

1) Motion Sensors that dim lights in no activity zones

2) Light detectors that adjust lighting based on how well lit the warehouse is.

Smart Lighting Solutions help cut down costs to a great extent. Lights only use energy as and when needed. It minimises waste and maximises output.

Control switches are the next best option. These switches allow you to manually control the intensity of light across zones. They may call for more effort but can also cut costs and save energy.

3. Make use of Natural Lighting

The sun is our best source of light and energy. Why not utilise it to the full?

Our energy systems rely on fuel. Lighting up your warehouse with natural daylight means unlimited light resources at no extra costs.

You can utilise sunlight by:

1) Installing more doors and windows at possible places.

2) Using appropriate internal and external shades.

Do not forget to consider proper shades when allowing daylight into your warehouse. An expert can help you install doors and windows in the right manner to avoid damage by direct sunlight.

4. Balance with Diffused Sunlight

The optimal use of natural light is a mix of direct and diffused sunlight.

Diffused light is just evenly scattered light. It will spread across a large area, cast no sharp shadows, and cause no harm.

You can do so by:

1) Using skylights on the roof of a warehouse at an ideal ratio.

2) Painting wall colors in a lighter shade or white. It reflects and spreads light across the space.

3) Installing solar tubes that act like lamps but retain power from sunlight.


TEMPERATURE CONTROL


5. Insulate Walls, Roofs, and Doors

The summer heat and winter cold often rush in and affect goods. Maintaining the right temperature inside the facility is a big challenge.

Insulated walls, roofs, and doors keep a steady internal temperature without using a thermostat. Thus, it reduces the use of energy to heat and cool the facility all the time.

To maintain a steady temperature,

1) Install partition walls and sub-dividing the space.

2) Paint the walls and roof white (or any other light shade).

3) Install high solar reflectance or thermal emittance system on the roof.

4) Repair any damage to walls, roof, or doors as soon as possible.

A common eco-friendly option is sheep’s wool. Wool fibre is a natural insulator because of its tiny air pockets. It keeps buildings warm in winter and cool in summer.

The goal is to reach an optimal level. It is best to plan and make changes based on needs and the factors that affect your facility.

6. Consult an HVAC Expert

HVAC systems have become a must for modern warehouses. An HVAC system stands for:

H – Heating
V – Ventilation
A – Air-conditioning
C – Cooling

Most warehouses already have an HVAC system to maintain their goods. But not everyone does it right. The best person to judge the systems in your warehouse is an expert.

There are many reasons to go to an HVAC expert such as,

1) They stay updated on the latest tech and their prices.

2) They know the ideal set up for workers and their health.

3) They are aware of emission values and the proper norms to follow.

Consulting an HVAC expert is a great investment. An expert will focus on the needs of your facility and cater to them. They will set up the right system to save both, energy and costs.

7. Use Energy Efficient Cooling Systems

Cooling large warehouses can be a tough task. There are many cooling solutions in the market. But not all of them are cost effective or save energy.

One of the best cooling systems for large spaces is an HVLS fan. An HVLS or High Volume, Low Speed fan can,

1) Increase air movement and keep the area well ventilated.

2) Maintain a consistent temperature in the facility.

It protects goods from spoilage as well as consumes lesser amounts of energy. This not only saves fuel but also reduces waste due to product damage.

8. Get Electric Heat Pumps

A heat pump brings the best of both worlds. It can heat and cool the space as per the current need.

A heat pump transfers energy from cooler areas to hotter zones. In a warehouse, it takes heat from the cold air and moves energy into the building. Heat pumps are an eco-friendly option because they do not use fuel.

While heat pumps can be expensive to install, they save on energy costs in the long run. They have many other benefits such as,

1) Improving air quality.

2) Being safer than using gas.

3) Being quiet and not producing mechanical noises.

The most useful heat pumps for a warehouse are air source, exhaust air and solar assisted heat pumps.

9. Set up Air Curtains

A rush of air, even for seconds, can affect the internal temperature. This is where air curtains come to the rescue.

An air curtain stops the outside air from entering the facility. It also protects your goods by keeping insects at bay. Since an air curtain regulates temperature, it:

1) Allows less energy use by the HVAC system.

2) Increases the life of your HVAC system.

3) Minimises waste caused by damaged goods.

4) Optimizes the environment for employee health.

You can find various air curtains in the market based on use. Warehouses largely make use of industrial air curtains. These come in a number of sizes and standards. Your seller would be happy to help you choose the right one for your space.

10. Install Solar Wall Systems

Solar Walls on the outside of your building can help passively heat the interior. The Wall System makes use of energy from the sun and cuts down on the use of fuel for your HVAC system.

A Solar Wall,

1) Pulls the air warmed by the sun into the facility.

2) Is dark in color and reflects a lesser amount of radiation.

3) Protect the facility from cold air during the winter months.

4) Is not as costly to install due to its simple structure.

The solar walls link to the HVAC system when in use. The pressure created by fans helps pull the warm air and create a cycle of moving air.

Trombe walls work similarly to solar walls. Thus, it acts as a great substitute for the solar wall system.

11. Night Purging

Night purge or night flushing is a natural way to cool your facility by allowing the flow of air at night. The aim is to pre-cool a building at night before it is back in use the next day.

The method makes use of the stack effect where hot air rises and cool air takes its place. Night flushing can be:

1) Natural, by opening windows at night and closing them during the day.

2) Mechanical, by pushing air through ducts at a high airflow rate.

3) Mixed, by using a blend of both ways.

Many factors affect night purging, and location or climate is one of them. The method does not work if the outside weather is hot or humid. Thus, night flushing limits itself only to areas with dry climates.

12. Landscaping and Zoning

The structure and design of both, the outside and the inside, decide the thermal control of your warehouse.

A great way to maintain your optimum temperature is to plant trees and shrubs outside. Landscaping will make your facility a greener and healthier place to work.

Zoning on the inside helps spread air evenly. To build zones, use partition walls or any physical barrier between different areas. It helps manage HVAC systems better and more efficiently.


REDUCING WASTE


13. Landscaping and Zoning

Lithium-ion batteries are popular for storing high amounts of energy. They have shorter charging cycles and do not need to be changed multiple times per shift.

These batteries can help you go green because:

1) It takes lesser storage space. This further cuts down the need to expand and leave a greater footprint.

2) It reduces the need to keep spare batteries.

3) They last longer and do not need replacements often.
A Lithium-ion battery is reliable and safe to store, even in cold climates. But make sure to learn the correct care and storage for your batteries to make them long.

14. Get Low Flow Plumbing Fixtures

A low-flow fixture helps save water by having a lower flow rate of water or a smaller quantity per flush.

These fixtures set up in faucets, toilets, and other sources of water. A low flow plumbing fixture saves up to 30-50% of water in use. While it protects our water resources, it can also help you cut down on the water bills.

You need a low flow fixture if,

1) Your facility uses 3.5 GPF (Gallon per flush) toilets.

2) Your faucets use more than 2.5 GPM (Gallons per minute).

You can get a variety of options on the type of low flow fixture you want to use. These will differ in costs, but you should choose the one that seems like the best option for your warehouse.

15. Go Paperless

In a digital world, it has become much easier to cut down on the use of paper. Going paperless is an easy way to go green and eco-friendly. It will also make your processes smoother and reduce the need for physical storage of files.

You can go paperless if you:

1) Send and Accept digital invoices.

2) Avoid printing sheets and files.

3) Use a digital platform or WMS to handle data.

To go paperless is more than just about not using paper. A digital 3PL is fast, efficient, and helps avoid mistakes. Since it does not rely on many resources, it leaves little to no carbon footprint.

16. Harvest Rainwater and Grey Water

Rainwater is a free unlimited source of water that you can use across the facility. It is fresh and clean to be used for a variety of purposes.

Similarly, collecting grey water is also very helpful. While grey water is waste water, it can still be re-used in places where fresh water is not needed.

Systems need to be set up to collect and use these sources of water. For rain water harvesting,

1) You can channel water via pipes from the roof to a storage tank.

2) Install barrels in the open that filter and store rain water.

On the flip side, pipes from sinks and basins collect grey water and filter it into a container. These methods make sure that you use your resources to full and waste as little as possible, while saving on costs.

17. Insulate Pipes

A common reason for water wastage is the flow of cold water. When using a faucet, many people let water flow as they wait for warm water. The little amount adds up into gallons in larger facilities.

A great way to avoid it is to insulate pipes. It may seem like a costly affair but is worth the money because:

1) Save money and avoid energy loss in the long run

2) Reduce heat loss and maintain the water temperature for longer periods of time.

3) Save time spent on waiting for water to heat.

Prevent damage to pipes because of rapid expansion and contraction.

If it seems like too high a cost, you can insulate pipes during a repair session. You do not need to change the whole piping for the task. A plumber can wrap the pipes in insulation and secure them to seal the deal.

18. Insulate Pipes

Packaging material is one of the leading causes of waste from a warehouse. Going green in the domain cuts down on landfill content and makes packed products lighter. This can make shipping easier and cost lower, while also being eco-friendly at the same time.

You can shift from Styrofoam and Plastics to

1) Corrugated Bubble Wraps

2) Bio-degradable Peanut Packaging

3) Starch-based Biomaterials

Many green options come and go in the market. With constant research and focus on the field, make sure to keep an eye out. With newer materials, you can find more effective green solutions and stay aware of what is available in your region.

18. Reuse & Recycle

Re-using and recycling are two of the best methods for ecological benefits in any domain. It cuts down on your need to buy more items.

Some common tactics to reuse and recycle are:

1) Reuse cardboard and paper in packaging,

2) Use rental pallets instead of buying new ones, and

3) Send waste materials to the recycling centre. Keep a separate waste bin for these items.

Try to send as little waste into the dumping ground as possible.

To make the best out of reuse & recycle, always beware of the materials in use in the entire process. Ask yourself: Can I replace this with something that we have? Consult with your workers since they work closely with these materials. You might get some very creative ideas.


OTHER WAYS

20. Set up Solar Panels

Solar panels have made it easy to harness energy for your own. Solar energy is both, free and unlimited.

The large roof of a warehouse is an ideal place to set up solar panels. But there has also been a rise in solar panels along the walls of buildings.

You should keep in mind that the use of solar panels depends on your location. These are not as effective during winter, in cold climates or on a cloudy day.

But since this is an energy intensive industry, using solar panels and energy is a must. It can cut down your power costs to up to 75% and help you keep energy back-ups.

The use of solar energy can cut your carbon footprint down to half!

21. Use Battery Powered Vehicles

Warehouses need to use forklifts and stackers all day. When these vehicles run on fuel, they produce high amounts of carbon into the air. It is not only bad for the planet but also the health of your workers.

If you have not already, it is high time to shift to electric vehicles. An electric vehicle is ideal for indoor work spaces and warehouses for many reasons:

1) They are noise-free and do not emit CO2 or any harmful gases.

2) They consume limited energy with low heat loss.

3) They are not as costly and are low maintenance.

4) They do not need any extra storage space for fuel.

These vehicles come in many varieties and sizes. You can choose the right one based on how narrow your aisles are or how high your stacks are.

22. Get Polished Concrete Floors

To clean warehouses means to use tons of bleaches or other chemicals. All of these pollute water and leave behind harmful residue.

An easy way to reduce the amount of chemical use in cleaning is to install concrete floors. Polished concrete is low maintenance and does not need a lot of cleaning.

It also helps ease the burden and time taken in taking care of your facility.

23. Build on Mezzanine Floors

A common reason why warehouses have a high carbon footprint is that they take up so much space. But the solution is quite simple:

Expand along a vertical plane, on top of your current facility.

This can be done by constructing mezzanine floors in your headspace. These floors are built on top of pallet racks and help free up space in the main area of your facility.

24. Follow Lean Operating Principles

These principles by design intend to make use of as little resources as possible to get the work done without any loss.

Lean Principles are of many types and used in various domains. Lean Warehouse Management often uses the 5S Principle:

1) Sort – define all processes and section them into necessary or unnecessary. 2) Streamline – optimize each process to the max.

3) Shine – ensure the warehouse is clean and healthy.

4) Standardize – develop strict protocols and systems for the team.

5) Sustain – commit to the protocols and systems set to see results in the long run.

It may take some time to learn and use these strategies. However, they also have a high rate of success in reaching goals. The same strategy also works in your attempt to go greener if the same goal is kept in mind.

25. Get an Integrated Warehouse Management System (WMS)

Digital systems like a WMS streamline your process and make the entire cycle smooth. They save both: time and resources. Since these systems are digital and save data on cloud storage, they do not leave behind a physical footprint.

Further, they allow teams and managers to be more efficient and leave little room for human errors. This poses a lower risk to the health of goods and waste generated due to these errors.

Similar to WMS, using a dock appointment scheduling software like Queueme helps make the process smoother. Long vehicle queues near a warehouse are known to waste high amounts of fuel.

Such software automates dock time slotting. It also notifies the booked time slots in advance, helping you avoid these queues. As a result, reefer engines use lesser fuel that are kept on during the unloading process.

Every step to go green is worth the time and energy. It is good for business, money, health and the overall planet. Modern warehouses quickly move to a more sustainable to catch up with the need of the hour. A green supply chain only brings a ton of benefits for your company. It may take some time, but step by step upgrades will add up and allow you to see overall growth in your business.

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