Saturday 22nd Oct 2016 - Logistics Manager

Is it worth going green?

Whether it’s all a load of greenwash or not, the government is going to paint this country green and for once it may really be of material benefit.

Mark Hosea of Lambert Smith Hampton says: “By the turn of the decade, the majority of occupiers will want sustainable buildings, which leave the smallest possible ‘carbon footprint’ and are of maximum efficiency. This provides cost savings across the property life cycle.”

Laurie Sice of says: “In the last couple of years the demand for more energy-efficient warehouses has gone from being the exception to the norm, with clients increasingly placing environmental issues and performance as key criteria. We conclude there are three drivers behind this trend – long-term cost control, peer/market pressures and legislation.”

The biggest reason for the push towards ever greener goals is right there in your pocket. Jonathan Fenton Jones of Gazeley says: “Carbon cutting, waste water management and so on, getting customers to develop facilities which are themselves cheaper to operate – which bit don’t you like?”

The surge in energy costs is pushing occupancy costs way above inflation. It is likely that the payback period for systems such as photovoltaic energy will become shorter, making them easier to justify. However, it is important to place the issue for the logistics sector into context, as processing, manufacturing and offices still consume far larger amounts of electricity than a typical warehouse. was recently involved in a project for a leading European distributor of paper, packaging and promotional products, which was planning to extend its existing warehouse and office premises. As the current building covered more than 1,000 sq m, the Building Regulations 2000, Part 2LB, required the client to ensure that both the extension and the current facility comply with the latest energy efficiency requirements under the act. The investment, including training, amounted to just a few hundred pounds – a pittance against the energy savings.

Green technology and the way it is applied has come a long way. When Gazeley did its first eco-project in 2004 it was able to create an annual 6.2 per cent saving on carbon, an annual 6.2 per cent saving on energy and a 45 per cent saving on water. In 2007 it is predicting that it will be able to cut carbon emissions at John Lewis’ warehouse at Magna Park Milton Keynes by 40 per cent a year, create an annual energy usage saving of 18 per cent and a 45 per cent saving on water which in monetary terms is cutting operating costs by £178,000 a year.

In the past couple of years there have been a flurry of EU-driven building legislation such as Part L2A to the Building Regulations “Conservation of fuel and power in buildings other than dwellings” which came into effect in April 2006. In addition, the Building Research Establishment (BRE)’s widely used BRE Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) environmental rating system is to be overhauled to take account of the drive towards zero-carbon buildings. BRE is to add a rating above the present top category of “excellent” in April. It is likely to be called “outstanding”. Other more stringent requirements are in the pipeline.

Developer and occupiers alike can and do go beyond government regulations to future-proof their buildings. Gazeley plans for its £50m Blue Planet Chatterley Valley scheme in North Staffordshire will be carbon positive. The 500,000 sq ft complex will have its own bio-fuel micro power station, using rape seed oil, which will produce sufficient power and heat for the on-site buildings and a surplus that will provide enough energy to power up to 650 local homes.

Similar technologies are also being introduced by other developers most notably ProLogis. It is currently developing a 530,000 sq ft warehouse for Sainsbury’s at ProLogis Park Pineham in Northampton. The project will have a number of features to reduce energy consumption including: wall-mounted photovoltaic panels that generate electricity; solar walls; an on-site power plant that re-uses the heat produced by air conditioning, and an on-site recycling facility; and energy-efficient lighting systems.

Miles Keeping of King Sturge says: “There is an attitudinal change occurring at the moment and we are beginning to see it filter down from the likes of John Lewis and Marks & Spencer.”