In the US there are over 5 million commercial buildings and industrial facilities with combined annual energy costs of approximately $200 billion, and close to 30 percent of their energy consumption is used inefficiently within warehouses. According to The Common Fire Foundation, buildings use 36% of all energy consumed in the US, 65% of electricity, 30% of raw materials and 12% of potable water. Warehousing costs can account for almost 10% of a company’s revenue, with heating and lighting as the two largest energy users. Energy efficient warehouses offer highly advanced inventory tracking and value added services such as repackaging and quality control testing.

Buildings of these types include:

  • Factory Group F Buildings
  • Storage Group S Buildings
  • Package facilities
  • Bulk storage
  • Product Supply Warehouses

Improvement and Efficiency Opportunities

Warehouses are moving beyond simply providing storage; many now offer high-tech inventory tracking and value-added services such as quality-control testing and repackaging. As warehouses grow more diverse and multi-using, their energy consumption grows, which places energy-efficiency measures as a critical asset to maintaining cost and productivity. A few “low hanging fruit” changes in equipment and occupant behavior can make a huge impact on savings: 

  • Maintenance: Regular maintenance of heating, ventilation, cooling, and refrigeration systems—including changing filters regularly—is important for good operation and to avoid energy waste
  • Seals: One of the greatest sources of energy losses for heated or refrigerated warehouse spaces is air infiltration through gaps around loading-dock doors during loading and unloading operations. Regularly checking and repairing gaps in seals is a quick energy saver
  • Efficient Use of Space: Warehouse space types are often designed with higher bays to take advantage of vertical storage. Utilization of space is maximized while providing adequate circulation paths for personnel and material handling equipment such as forklift trucks
  • Power and Utility Requirements: Differentiate between spaces that require power and utilities, and those that are for storage only. Depending on the goods being stored and handling equipment required, there may be a need for well-distributed power and utility lines throughout the space
  • Energy Efficient Lighting: High-intensity fluorescents have recently been recognized to be at least as effective and usually more energy efficient than metal halide or high-pressure sodium lights. Timers and occupancy sensors that turn off lights when no one is around can also reduce lighting costs.
  • Light Colored Roofing: This strategy reflects a large percentage of solar radiation, reducing HVAC loads, and energy consumption. Greater heat reflection increase worker productivity in the summer


By ensuring that equipment is used only when needed within a warehouse space, building owners and project managers can see savings from:

  1. Improved operating efficiencies
  2. Less downtime due to undetected equipment problems
  3. Extended equipment life cycle
  4. Reduction of power draw (much of your bill is based on the highest peak in a month, even though it may last only a few minutes)
  5. Lower costs of environmental compliance

Case Study – ASHRAE Climate Zone 3A

Prologis Rolls Out Warehouse Energy Retrofits

Source: DOE

Prologis partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to develop and implement solutions to retrofit existing buildings to reduce annual energy consumption by at least 30% versus pre-retrofit energy use as part of DOE’s Commercial Building Partnership (CBP) program. Prologis upgraded the interior lighting at an 800,000-ft2 unconditioned distribution center in Olive Branch, Mississippi, as part of a tenant improvement project for a major national retail customer. This case study summarizes the retrofit project’s business case and demonstrates a solution for overcoming a common barrier to improving energy efficiency. Actual energy savings were determined based on utility bills obtained from the customer.


Additional Resources