Green, ecologically-minded warehouse retrofits can reduce a facility’s carbon footprint, increase its value and lower energy costs. But how can a warehouse be renovated to become greener with only a modest investment? To learn more about the best retrofits with this goal in mind, I spoke with four professionals:
- Sean Canning, LEEP AP, licensed architect and owner of 10|70 Architecture in San Diego, California.
- Shawn Casemore, President at Casemore & Co., a supply chain consultancy based in Ontario, Canada.
- Dan Gould, President at Synergy, an energy-efficient lighting consultancy based in Boston, Massachusetts.
- Dave Homerding, Marketing Manager of WeatherSure Systems, a commercial roofing and waterproofing contractor based in Colorado.
Based on our conversations, here are nine great warehouse retrofit suggestions that won’t break the bank.
1. Increase Natural Lighting with Solar Light Tubes
Natural lighting is a great way to cut down on energy use. To bring in more light without major construction, Canning suggests light tubes. These tubes are composed of highly-reflective material that channels natural light into the warehouse. And installation generally doesn’t cut through the structural components of the roof.
2. Cool Your Roof
In older warehouses, there are a number of quick roof improvements that can greatly reduce energy consumption. Canning suggests warehouse managers apply a “cool roof,” which is a coating of highly-reflective paint to reduce the amount of heat that the building absorbs.
Homerding mentions that just coating around the roof’s air conditioning units can reduce the the temperature of these units, increasing their efficiency and thus reducing the amount of energy needed to cool a building.
3. Upgrade Insulation
If a warehouse currently contains traditional batt insulation, Canning suggests replacing it with loose-fill or sprayed-foam to increase its efficiency. Loose-fill insulation often requires only a small hole to be made between studs and blowing in the insulation. Alternatively, sprayed-foam insulation costs about twice as much as loose-fill, but is almost twice as efficient as batt insulation.
4. Install Fluorescent or Induction Lighting
Gould says that one of the first retrofits to consider in commercial warehouses is to replace traditional metal halide light fixtures with fluorescent lights. Flourescents use 50 percent less energy and their cost can be recovered in two to three years.
Casemore also suggests considering a slightly more costly upgrade to induction lighting. Induction lights offer up to a 40 percent efficiency increase over their fluorescent counterparts, though have a larger up-front cost.
5. Revamp Lighting Scheme to Reduce Usage
While copious, ambient lighting may be a necessity in some warehouses, switching to a task-lighting scheme can greatly reduce energy usage. Move lights away from the ceiling and closer to the workers, and overall usage can be reduced, notes Canning. These benefits are increased when combined with natural, ambient lighting and artificial lights with motion sensors.
6. Deploy Controllable Thermostats
While most residential and commercial properties have programmable thermostats, Casemore points out they’re less common in warehouses, or simply not programmed. By regulating and measuring the warehouse temperature, users can reduce their energy usage with shorter heating and cooling cycles. For even more cost savings, Casemore suggests users connect these thermostats to a monitoring system to analyze their energy usage.
7. Install Lighting Sensors
Motion sensors can be attached to lighting systems to decrease use when zones are inactive–a great option for warehouses with low-traffic areas or where lighting is not crucial. Where this isn’t realistic, Canning suggests daylight-level sensors to adjust levels to the amount of natural light in the facility.
Gould points out that sensors are essential to minimizing artificial lighting in a facility that also utilizes natural light. Without them, he says, these facilities are often over-lit and often don’t actually reduce energy usage.
8. Invest in Destratification Fans
In colder climates, the energy needed to heat a warehouse can be reduced by investing in destratification fans. Gould explains that these fans channel hot air down to the floor of the warehouse. Depending on the warehouse layout, managers can heat large spaces with large fans like those from Big Ass Fans (yes, that’s the company’s name) or smaller fans like those from Air Pear to channel warmer air to direct warehouse zones.
9. Join a Demand-Response Group
Casemore suggests a final energy-savings solution that doesn’t require installing anything whatsoever: joining a demand-response energy program. Companies like EnerNOC and EnergyConnect help devise a conservation plan that users enact when demand peaks. Users receive payment for participating in the program and for energy they sacrifice when called-upon during peak usage periods.
These experts had some great ideas, and I highly recommend reaching out to them if you are looking to make any green retrofits in your warehouse. Do you have any ideas on warehouse retrofits that can reduce energy consumption and assist warehouse operators trying to go green? Please take a moment and share in the comments.
Blog post images created by Till Kretch, U.S. Army Corps Engineers Europe District, sleeping pill, Joelk75, Idaho National Laboratory, dunktanktechnician, Luis Argerlich, Jan-Erik Finnberg and Anton Fomkin.