Energy Saving Innovations for Building Green Warehouses

Competitive Market
We are at a unique point in history where the pressure to "go green" is even stronger than ever before. On one side you have environmental concerns. When you own something with the possibility to drain quite a lot of energy, you -- and everyone involved in the project -- become acutely aware of your energy responsibility. Also keeping you acutely aware of your energy consumption is your new energy bill. A large, open structure has the potential to significantly increase your cost of operation. The bright side to all of this pressure is that logistics professionals in Australia and the world over have already come up with some great strategies to increase the energy efficiency of commercial structures. Some of the newest strategies are well on their way to revolutionizing how warehouses and other commercial buildings go green. 

Fluorescent Lighting

The lighting used in most warehouses is woefully inefficient. Most warehouses use mercury vapour lamps or sodium halide lights. Both of these systems are terrible at distributing light.

Because the light that comes from them is conical, they illuminate the warehouse unevenly. Items closer to the ceiling on warehouse racking  (and already harder to see) are inevitable cast in shadow because the light cone is narrowest up there. Down below, most of the light is wasted on areas that are covered by stacks and pallets.

These lights are also inefficient when it comes to energy consumption. Turn them on and they take time to reach full illumination and guzzle energy in the meantime. While they burn, the meter spirals out of control.

But before energy bills and consumption concerns became an issue, they were simply the way things were done. Now, many companies are switching to T5 fluorescent lights. Unlike mercury or sodium halide lights, T5 fluorescent lights cast light downward. This means that they will evenly illuminate longspan shelving that they're placed over instead of the area around the rows occupied by racking, pallet racking or other light blockers.

And they are quite efficient at using energy. Not only do they guzzle less power than traditional warehouse lights but they produce more illumination at the same time. Make the switch and you get the benefit of better illumination and a slimmer EnergyAustralia bill .

Light Sensors

But fluorescent lights aren't necessarily news. Commercial buildings have been making the switch all over Australia for years. The innovations come with how you use the fluorescent lights once they are installed.

To cut energy even more, consider installing motion sensors. These devices can be set on a timer that will shut the lights off if there has been no activity in the area for, say, one to ten minutes. When work resumes in the area, the motion sensors flip the lights right back on.

Want to get even more high tech? There is another type of sensor that businesses wire to their fluorescent lighting. This new innovation senses sunlight in the same way that other sensors sense motion.

When the light coming in through the windows is bright, the fluorescent lights dim to avoid becoming redundant. When the sun goes down or the day is cloudy, the lights produce more illumination. These high-tech sensors keep the illumination in the room constant while reducing energy waste.

This sun sensor is so effective that businesses building their warehouses from the ground up choose to include large polarized plastic windows in their blue prints to take advantage of the power of the Australian sun.

Polarized plastic windows are also ideal in Australia because while they let light in, they block some of its heat. This way business owners cut down on their energy consumption via two avenues.

Solar Panels

Australia is never short on sunlight. Today, many Australian businesses are employing solar panels to turn some of that sunlight into energy. Solar panels aren't a new innovation in green warehouse building. But they are cheaper than ever before which means they're rapidly growing in popularity.

Build Vertically

In Australia, warehouses are traditionally built horizontally. One story warehouses are traditionally cheaper to construct after all. But as energy costs and consciousness grows, the long term benefits of vertical warehouses with many smaller floors instead of one large floor are becoming apparent.

The primary benefit of vertical warehouses is the ability to construct them in urban centres. While the cost of building warehouses with floors strong enough to support heavy loads is higher, the savings in petrol and man hours when commuting to a warehouse that is closer to ports and residences is considerable.

Switch to Hydrogen

Forklifts are a secondary cost of a new warehouse but business owners looking to become more energy-efficient are turning to forklifts for an opportunity to go easy on the environment. Here's what they have to offer:

  • They're better for the environment because their only by-product is water vapour.
  • Traditional batteries take hours to recharge; hydrogen batteries take seconds.
  • Power output: When traditional batteries run down, forklifts slow. Hydrogen fuel cells keep giving the same amount of power until their power runs out.

Energy Efficient Employees

This is a traditionally overlooked sector of warehouse building. Today, Australian businesses are targeting employees who share their vision of energy-efficiency and sustainability. An environmentally conscious employee pool means everyone's always on the lookout for more efficient methods of operations and innovations that help you save money and serve the environment.

When building a warehouse from the ground up Australian business owners have a unique opportunity to give something back to the area that supports their business. In return they enjoy lower energy bills and other benefits that come with ecologically responsible practices. 

Anna Kec

Anna Kec is a writer,editor and contributor for number of high-class business and marketing websites.Her vast knowledge and experience in event planning and marketing makes her a unique and indispensable addition to SavvySME team.

Comments (1)
Phil Khor

Phil Khor, Founder at

Great tips Anna. T5's and motion sensors is a no-brainer but light sensor is interesting for us to look into. And the last point truly resonates with us - we're not in a warehouse but my team is just as conscientious about saving energy and the effect on our environment. Thanks for sharing. :)