Warehouses are increasingly dominating the commercial building scene in the United States, which could affect efforts to tackle climate change. According to recent data released by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), warehousing and storage units have become the most common commercial buildings in the country – surpassing offices. It has the potential to increase or decrease greenhouse gas emissions, and largely depends on whether warehouses can extract natural gas.
One expert says that warehouses that store everything from food to clothing are more reliant on gas heating systems than office buildings because the initial cost of these systems is cheaper, and they are easier to install. Is. the edge. Although warehouses typically use less energy than offices, there is a risk that their reliance on gas could increase emissions from commercial buildings, which already account for 16 percent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. Are responsible for The Biden administration to achieve its goal of halving the United States By 2030, it will have to work to clean up warehouse operations, compared to 2005 levels of carbon dioxide that warms the planet.
“If the building sector has moved on its own, it means we have to adopt a strategy,” said Bing Liu, building sub-sector leader at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. “If you look at the use of space thermal energy, because [warehouses use] Less efficient technologies, that’s actually a concern.
E-commerce has boosted warehousing. Online retail companies like Amazon use large distribution centers to sort and ship their goods. According to commercial real estate firm CBRE, every $ 1 billion in online sales generates 1.25 million square feet of warehouse space. Square footage of storage space in the United States has grown from just 10 billion square feet in 1999 to about 17 billion square feet in 2018 (the most recent year for which EIA has data). It is a floor space of over 295,000 football fields.
Although we do not yet have data from EIA after 2018, the epidemic has further increased the demand for warehouse space. Online shopping has become even more popular. And despite disruptions in the supply chain, consumers are still demanding prompt delivery, with retailers increasingly storing excess inventory in warehouses. At the same time, demand for retail and office space has been affected by epidemics due to remote work.
Warehouses have a lot of room for improvement when it comes to their impact on the environment. Liu says warehouse developers can lead office buildings that are rapidly moving from natural gas heating to electricity generation and switching to electricity. Heat pumps. Some climate-conscious cities in the United States, starting in Berkeley, California, have moved to ban natural gas hookups in new construction – an effort the gas industry is trying to derail. Is.
Other trends could make warehouse gas heating a major pollution issue. Many e-commerce warehouses are sunny clusters in Southern California, where Amazon shifts most of its imports. But warehousing has recently increased in the colder parts of the Midwest – which, according to Liu, increases the urgency of moving warehouses to cleaner heating. In its upper part, warehouses are less insulated against elements than in office buildings. And as the Biden administration moves to keep ports open 24/7 to reduce supply chain backlogs, this could mean that warehouses will have bigger heat bills because of working hours. Colds are spreading till evening.
On the other hand, if warehouses solve the heating problem, their growing popularity could potentially reduce greenhouse gas emissions for the commercial building sector. According to the EIA, non-refrigerated warehouses, which make up the bulk of storage buildings, typically use less than half the energy per square foot compared to office buildings. This is because there are not enough computers to keep them running or people can be comfortable with air conditioning and hot water. Ultimately, having a large portion of low-energy buildings, such as warehouses, “has the potential to reduce commercial energy use,” said EIA economist Zack Marvel. the edge In an email
There are definitely other environmental issues to deal with in warehouses. Building materials and construction are responsible for about 10 percent of global greenhouse gases, so Liu says finding sustainable alternatives to materials such as cement should be a priority in this decade. Additionally, warehouses can be magnetized for diesel pipe contamination from diesel trucks – which can pose a health risk to nearby neighborhoods. This indicates the additional benefits of simply turning to clean energy.