From design to construction, a giant warehouse has been environmentally responsible from the outset. In addition to its "green-building" awards, it has saved its owner a bundle.
It's generally a good thing to practice what you preach. And if you're in the business of making environmentally friendly cleaning products, that means if you decide to build a distribution center, it had better be green in every way.
Incorporating sustainability in every aspect, from design to construction to daily operation, was the goal of JohnsonDiversey Inc. (JDI) when it decided to consolidate five distribution operations into one big center.
The resulting 552,000-square-foot building - that's the size of 11 football fields - opened in 2007 near the company's primary production plant in Sturtevant, Wis., and it meets all the goals set from the outset, JDI officials say. The DC needed to realize transportation, real estate and labor savings, and enhance operational efficiencies. For an environmentally conscious manufacturer, it also was important to see energy and water efficiency, resource conservation, and low operating costs. And, of course, it was important to maintain an overall responsible environmental profile or image when erecting what is claimed to be the country's largest "green" building for distribution purposes.
Not only were those goals met, they were achieved without sacrificing supply chain efficiency, says Stuart J. Carron, senior director of global facilities and real estate at JohnsonDiversey. He says that supply chain excellence and sustainable warehousing are intrinsically linked because each strive to optimize operational efficiencies. "The improved working environment and workflow layout have improved our supply chain metrics compared to our previous locations, and since our opening in July 2007 our costs/hundred weight have consistently dropped to add value to our business and our customers."
Despite its gigantic size -- and it's designed to expand to 800,000 square feet - the building uses 44 percent less energy and 51 percent less water than a comparable facility built to code minimums. And while operating expenses have been reduced, the DC has achieved inventory management and customer order fulfillment accuracy at greater than 99 percent.
And to those who insist that corporate social responsibility initiatives bloat the enterprise, Carron counters: "Ultimately, sustainability is about being lean."
Liberty Property Trust, which has wide experience with sustainability projects, was JDI's development partner. It "sized" the facility using a warehouse modeling tool to optimize the DC around JDI's precise storage methods and inventory strategy while providing growth for operations. The $21m, build-to-suit project came in on time and under budget, says John DiVall, Liberty Property senior vice president, who notes that green is usually associated with office buildings, not warehouses. Moreover, every component of the project is designed to have payback within five to eight years, according to DiVall.
The site for this project was selected to be close to bus and regional rail lines to encourage employees to use public transportation instead of cars. In line with that, bicycle racks and men's and women's showers are provided to encourage commuting on foot or bike.
The warehouse roof was designed to reduce solar heat gain within the building, which in turn lowers the internal summer heat gain and increases worker comfort and productivity. Carron says he is convinced that the comfortable conditions result in productivity gains.
In addition, the roof reduces the HVAC equipment loads during the cooling season, lowering electric costs. An intensive integrated investigation of the design of the HVAC system was performed to optimize energy and maintenance costs while providing as high a level of indoor air quality as possible.
The building isn't air-conditioned. Instead, a pressurization and ventilation system coupled with fans the size of helicopter rotors circulate air in the building with the result that employees say that it feels like it is air conditioned, Carron says.
"You can do so much better when it comes to energy efficiency, water use and productivity in the facility when you build green from the outset," he says.
The use of low-emitting materials such as interior paints, adhesives, sealants and carpet were installed to help provide a higher quality of indoor environment for the contractors and visitors during construction and to maintain this air quality for the duration of building life. Furthermore, no interior wood products contain urea-formaldehyde, which further enhances indoor air quality.
The use of water-conserving toilet fixtures, waterless urinals, half-gallon per-minute aerators on all faucets and lavatories, and a low-flow shower head helped the project exceed 50 percent water savings as compared to a baseline calculation.
For lighting systems, energy efficiency was achieved through T5 fluorescent high-bay lighting in the warehouse and T5 volumetric lighting in the office. The lighting in all periodically occupied office spaces is controlled by occupancy sensors with unoccupied times controlled via a schedule in the lighting control system. Warehouse aisle lighting was installed with an integral occupancy sensor so that off-hours use is automatic and only on when required.
The building's landscaping does not require permanent irrigation which eliminates the need for potable water or other natural surface or subsurface water resources available on or near the project site.
During the design and construction phase the team worked to select materials that were locally produced and contained a high recycled content. Forty percent of the total products that were installed within the facility contained recycled content. Of those materials installed, 12 percent contained post-consumer content and 34 percent contained pre-consumer products. To reduce the environmental impact of transportation, the project insured that 70 percent of the materials installed were locally produced and extracted within a 500 mile radius of the project site. Furthermore, over 60 percent of the regionally produced and extracted materials noted above came from a distance of 200 miles or less.
The collaborative approach of the project team encouraged "creative problem solving," DiVall says, such as removing 12,130 tons of bottom ash waste from a local landfill and reusing it in construction.
The project received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification and other recognition from the U.S. Green Building Council. In 2007, it won the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties' national Green Development Award, reportedly the first and only warehouse to be so recognized. Most recently, CoreNet Global recognized the distribution facility with its 2008 Sustainability Leadership Award for Design & Development.
Liberty Property Trust, www.libertyproperty.com
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