Create a Greener Warehouse

There are many different ways to design or build an energy-efficient, environmentally friendly warehouse. Here are ideas for changing or constructing a warehouse that helps you cut costs and help you qualify for incentives.

Construction “Dream List” Features

A number of factors go into making a building energy efficient. First, talk with management and workers about what features are feasible. Consider your budget, schedule, philosophy and business goals. Some excellent ideas for green features are:

  • Interior and exterior LED lighting. Think of adding sensors and timers adjusted to your business’s hours and needs.
  • Drought-resistant and drought-tolerant plants, particularly native and adaptive plants, for outside landscaping
  • Installation of water-saving fixtures in sinks, refrigerators, freezers and more
  • Heating and cooling systems that do not use CFC-based refrigerants, HCFCs or halons
  • Recycled content: post-consumer and pre-consumer products and material, from steel and concrete to drywall, carpet, doors and insulation
  • Use of renewable energy sources, including solar, to power the building
  • Bike storage for staff and visitors and reserved parking spots for fuel-saving cars
  • Connected, modern HVAC systems equipped with sensors like electronic thermostats to monitor energy use

Best Practices to Ensure Green Warehouses

If the building is already constructed and you don’t want to make substantial improvements, you can still figure out how to reduce pollution. One way to do this is to reduce the idling time for trucks. Long idling times lead to more emissions. Additional emissions are produced by diesel-powered transportation refrigeration units (TRUs) used for perishable goods. A good practice is to limit idling time to five minutes.

Another way to see a benefit is to donate excess building materials from construction or operations that you would otherwise dump. The City of Houston runs Reuse Warehouse, a facility that provides construction materials to nonprofit organizations. You may be able to write off your donation as a tax deduction.

In addition, you can also evaluate the organization of the warehouse. Improved inventory management can lead to fewer defects and discarding of items. Storing fast-moving items in easy-to-reach spaces can help you minimize time to move between workstations, fuel cost and worker injuries.

Reviewing EnergyStar’s best practices checklist for warehouses can provide you with additional ideas.

Determine What Incentives You’re Eligible For

Evaluate the local, state and federal tax incentives for your building design, purchase or lease. A good place to identify potential incentives is the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency® (DSIRE). This site informs you about metropolitan, county, state and federal incentives. If you’re a small business, the U.S. Small Business Administration may make additional resources available.

Review All of the Evidence Together

After you’ve collected all of the available information on your options, speak to your architect or relocation service, attorney, accountant and local government liaison about your plans. They may be able to inform you of additional pros and cons. It is important to get updated on changes in the local economy, which includes notice of delays. You should also look at the City’s 2017 fee schedule.

As you engage in discussions, keep in mind that warehouse construction is on the rise. This could be beneficial, in terms of more space becoming available, and detrimental, in terms of costs being higher. In addition, Houston, as with other major metropolitan centers in Texas, is seeing strong growth. This may increase your potential for sales and partnership opportunities. Looking at the big picture gives you a chance to ask which environmentally friendly features will be of the most use to you. You can also determine which locations for your business will allow you to see a reduction in fuel costs, an increase in tax savings and the closest proximity to delivery centers and roads.