Achieving “net-zero,” the term applied to buildings that generate the energy they consume, is particularly difficult in the industrial sector for two main reasons: concrete and steel.
Those are the two central ingredients of warehouses and two of the biggest users of energy during construction according to a panel that presented this week at NAIOP’s I.CON West, which took place this week in Long Beach, California.
The panel was moderated by Gabe Schwartz, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, SitelogIQ, with panelists Nicolas Isham, Managing Director, Asset Management, W.P. Carey, Matt Praske, Director of Sustainability Innovation, EQT Exeter, Grant Waldron, LEED AP, Head of Sustainability Strategy, GAIA and Brian Wilson, Partner, West Region, Bridge Industrial.
Still the panel said that achieving net-zero is an increasingly strong focus for the industrial sector.
Additional barriers include access to data from tenants and incorporating green language into lease agreements.
What are some of the lessons learned in making warehouses more energy efficient?
Praske said that he employs a team of consultant experts for various elements of sustainability.
“Take a step back and look at what your corporate goals are and align them with the specifications for the building,” said Waldron. “Take those specifications and align them with LEED (a standard that certifies energy efficient buildings).”
“This is a very new business and complicated further by the fact that 20 states have 20 different regulations,” said Wilson.
What is next on the horizon?
Praske framed net-zero in terms of three scopes: the onsite construction of the building, the source of electricity used to power the building’s operations, and the upstream and downstream activities generated by the building.
“We have a lot of manufacturing tenants. If we have scale in a certain region, can we build an off-site solar farm? At the end of the day, we view renewables off-site or on-site as a real asset. It’s like real estate,” said Isham.
“Electrification is the next topic that we need to address,” Praske said. “Move all sources to electricity and then find renewable sources. Replace natural gas. Being prepared to partner with tenants as they electrify their fleets. How do we make that mutually beneficial?”
The panel said that the potential of solar energy use in warehouses could generate a storage of energy that could later be monetized and used by other members of the local community.
Kathryn Hamilton is Vice President for Marketing and Communications at NAIOP