There are a multitude of benefits to going green in your warehouse. The benefits run the gamut of reducing utility bills, reducing carbon footprint, increasing sustainability, and providing your employees with an environmentally responsible company they are proud to work for. However, sometimes the simple phrase of “going green” can seem overwhelming. After all, where do you start? Where can you see the most significant impact? There are many ways in which you can go green in your warehouse. Below are just a few ways you can get started.
Upgrade To Energy Efficient Equipment For Material Handling
Depending on the type of warehouse you own or manage, you are sure to operate an array of equipment that run on either petroleum or electricity. As your equipment needs to be replaced, look for options that are more energy efficient—and pay particular attention to how many gallons per mile, gallons per hour, or how much wattage each item utilizes. Upgrading to energy efficient alternatives does not mean that you need to sacrifice the capability of your equipment, just that you are more mindful about their efficiency. Also keep in mind that regular maintenance of all equipment plays a vital role in their ability to achieve maximum energy efficiency, as well as optimal performance.
Bring In An HVAC Specialist
Another excellent way to increase energy efficiency, is to bring in an HVAC specialist to audit your current heating and cooling capabilities. Not only will their guidance go a long way in sustainability, but due to the large open spaces found within your warehouse, their solutions can save you a significant amount in utility expenses. The suggestions they recommend could include everything from upgrading your HVAC system, staying on top of your maintenance, improving insulation, installing ceiling fans, and finding solutions to keep in/out the seasonal air when warehouse doors are open—such as doc shelters instead of garage doors.
Another thing to keep in mind as your warehouse continues to grow and expand, is looking for equipment and practices that allow you to go vertical. By building your warehouse “up” instead of out, you may be able to put off expanding to a larger warehouse because you are maximizing the space you already have.
General Business Greening
While the tips above are more specific to a warehouse environment, it is important to remember general methods of going green. This includes making changes such as:
- Investing in technology that allows you to go paperless.
- Having a system in place for recycling everything from office waste, glass and plastic bottles, and warehouse waste.
- Replacing light bulbs with energy efficient alternatives.
- Removing one or two light bulbs from large lighting fixtures.
- Upgrading to energy efficient electronics.
- Installing solar panels.
- Utilizing solar powered electronics chargers.
- Investing in Energy Star products when available.
To achieve maximum success, do not attempt to tackle all of these green changes at once. Instead, create a schedule for which your green changes will be implemented one or two at a time. By spreading out changes over a period of time, you allow your team the time required to fully develop their new habits — opposed to making so many changes that they are challenging to recall or stay on top of. Most of the green changes you make in your warehouse will all require an upfront cost and investment in time, but will pay for themselves time and time again.
About the Author Tom Reddon is a forklift specialist and blog manager for the National Forklift Exchange. He also sits on the Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association (MHEDA) Executive Dialogue team. Follow him on Twitter at @TomReddon.