1. Keeping People in the Building Sufficiently Cool
Human comfort and safety should be the number one concern for facility managers who are responsible for warehouses with a workforce of people inside of them. According to OSHA, thousands of employees in the United States fall victim to heat-related ailments every year, even though these issues are preventable.
One way to tell if your warehouse is too hot is by referencing OSHA's heat index. This index provides a temperature scale for when workers need to be prepared for elevated heat levels. It also helps employers plan rest schedules and calculate work rates when employees are working in hot environments.
2. Doors Frequently Opening and Closing
Most warehouses need to accept deliveries or send out shipments multiple times a day, which exposes the warehouse to the outdoor climate. This problem is compounded by the large size of open bays, which means they allow more air to escape than a normal door while open.
One way to combat this issue is to create a more even distribution of air inside of the warehouse. When air temperature is more evenly distributed throughout the space, it means the temperature inside of the warehouse is affected less by doors opening and closing.
3. High Ceilings Make Air Distribution Difficult
Where residential and commercial office buildings usually have ceilings of around 8' to 12', an average warehouse could have ceilings as high as 20° or 30°. As the day progresses, the air in a warehouse continues to heat up, which raises the temperature.
To solve this problem you need a method of moving high volumes of air to de-stratify the thermal layers that occur as a result of heat building up at the high ceilings. This helps distribute cool air throughout the entire building to keep the temperature cooler everywhere.
4. Indoor Air Quality is Harder to Control
Because of the large space and air distribution challenges of warehouses, hot air tends to stagnate throughout the building. Additionally, many warehouses serve as manufacturing or processing centers where employees use chemicals that get mixed into hot air.
These circumstances lead to a reduced quality of air throughout the warehouse. If left unchecked, this reduction in air quality can lead to serious problems including sick building syndrome (SBS). This condition causes coughing, dizziness, irritation and discomfort for occupants of the building. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has estimated that up to 30% of new and remodeled buildings could suffer from SBS.
To solve indoor air quality (IAQ) problems within your warehouse, the EPA advises that you have proper ventilation and air distribution systems in place. You should also be sure that you follow all applicable OSHA air quality standards. These standards include a helpful checklist for improving the condition of your HVAC system, which can help with cooling.
5. Keeping Energy Costs Down can be Challenging
Warehouses have larger areas to cool, which means larger cooling systems that take up more room and use more energy. If you aren't careful, you may find that your warehouse's energy costs start to spiral out of control, especially when the weather is at its warmest.
To solve this problem, you will want to take stock of all of the components of your cooling system and analyze them based on energy consumption. Look for cooling solutions that can contribute to obtaining LEED credits for your building by contributing to the building's energy efficiency so that you can ensure that your solution is efficient with its use of electricity.
The Bottom Line
Many warehouse owners and operators will have to deal with one or more of these issues at some point or another. By understanding the specific cooling challenges your warehouse is facing and developing a solution to overcome them, you can successfully keep a warehouse at an appropriate temperature, even during the hottest months of the year.
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