October 31, 2007

Energy-efficiencies for warehouses

By DC Velocity Staff

Warehouses can take a number of steps to make their facilities more energy efficient, said James L. Knight, an associate director of global physical distribution for the P&G Distributing Co.

For example, because warehouses have flat roofs, they are ideal for solar panels, which can generate electricity as well as hot water. And to cut down on electric light use, warehouses can employ skylights to illuminate operations with natural light.

Another way for warehouses to save on energy is to use wind-driven air vents. Because warehouses often require a cool environment for storage, wind-driven vents circulate air and mitigate the use of more energy-intensive air-conditioning.

Forklift trucks with AC regenerative motors can also help decrease power usage. Such forklifts recharge their batteries by taking advantage of the kinetic energy when a fork drops a load to the floor. Knight said such trucks could offer energy savings on the order of 20 to 30 percent over conventional trucks.

Warehouses can also employ low-embodied energy materials in their design as a way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Low-embodied designs employ wooden frames in building construction in place of concrete and steel. The production of concrete and steel generates more greenhouse gases than the production of wood frames.