Sustainable solutions that are worth every penny. What works for the industrial sector?

Sustainable solutions that are worth every penny. What works for the industrial sector?

Katarzyna Lipka, Head of Strategic Consulting & Research, ESG Lead, Cushman & Wakefield Poland:

Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) matters are gaining in importance in property design, construction and maintenance, as well as asset acquisitions or lease decisions. A swift and well-thought-out implementation of a sustainable growth strategy may, in the long run, add value to a property and improve its appeal to prospective tenants and buyers.

Due to rising energy costs and EU regulations providing for reducing CO2 emissions by 55% by 2030 and achieving climate neutrality by 2050, energy efficiency has become a focal point for developers and investors alike. Reducing embodied carbon will also be crucial in the case of new projects and renovations. In addition, the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), adopted by the Council of the European Union on 28 November 2022, extends the mandatory sustainability reporting to more companies (large enterprises from 2025 onwards and SMEs from 2026 onwards).

Within the shifting market landscape, attitudes to sustainable solutions in warehouses and industrial buildings are evolving at pace. Initially viewed as an interesting new trend, sustainable solutions were later implemented mostly by market-leading developers for long-term tenants – today they are a market standard. Cushman & Wakefield estimates that over 50% of newly-built industrial projects have green certificates.

Damian Kołata, Partner, Head of Industrial & Logistics Agency Poland, Head of E-Commerce CEE, Cushman & Wakefield:

Faced with a large number of new market solutions and pressure to improve the efficiency of systems and to optimize costs, companies starting their journey on the road towards sustainable warehouses may find it challenging to set out project priorities. To assist them, experts of Cushman & Wakefield have collated useful information on selected solutions and the results of their implementation.

Electricity solutions

Solutions that are already widely used in logistics include LED lighting and smart lighting control systems (like for example DALI) with presence detectors, light intensity sensors and other functions. The costs of the latter are around 50-60% higher, but such systems generate more savings. LED lighting without a control system will deliver electricity savings of approximately 50% compared to traditional lighting while LEDs with a smart control system will help cut electricity consumption by up to 80%.

Another solution is photovoltaics which partially reduces the reliance on third-party electricity suppliers. Photovoltaic installations, however, face administrative challenges – due to the requirement to obtain a licence, most installations will have the maximum capacity of 500 kWp, for which only the building and grid connection permits are required. And on top of that, it is a solution feasible for buildings occupied by a single medium-sized or large user – the requirement to measure the energy collected at the grid connection point makes it more complicated in logistics parks.

HVAC solutions

One of the most popular HVAC solutions is a ground heat exchanger that supports ventilation by means of a set of pipes. It maintains the temperature produced by it at a constant level of up to 18oC, with a variable outdoor temperature of up to +35oC in the summer. It is an attractive alternative to standard air-cooling systems, with minimal or zero energy consumed. Additionally, it can reduce heating costs by up to 30% and eliminate cooling costs in the summer.

In warehouses storing food products, CO2 refrigeration is an option worth considering, especially since legislation requires tenants to implement green solutions. The R404A refrigerant has already been banned for use in Europe, unless it comes from recycling. CO2 refrigeration is more efficient, but more expensive to introduce compared to ammonia-based solutions. Another advantage is a reduction in CO2 emissions by around 2,000 tonnes for systems with an increased capacity.

Buildings with a height of over 5 m could well be fitted with destratification fans which eliminate the effects of convection responsible for upward heat loss, helping reduce heating costs by approximately 25%.

Ground heat pumps are also popular among HVAC systems. They are extremely efficient as the amount of energy used for the heat transfer is much less than the amount of energy produced. The application of a heat exchanger which draws energy from the ground or air means that approximately 75% of the energy used comes from the natural environment. Such solutions are deployed in new and upgraded buildings.

Water solutions

Demand for rainwater harvesting is growing amid rising water costs and the anticipated difficulties with access to water in the future. Rainwater collected from the roof of a building is accumulated in rainwater retention tanks, having been filtered first. It is then pumped through a rainwater control unit to feed the building’s systems.

Estimated savings amount to approximately 30-50% of the clean water consumed in a building for non-technological purposes. Additional savings of up to 90% can be achieved when a property is subject to water service charges under the Water Act. Operating costs for more developed systems are virtually zero.

Greywater recycling is also worth considering. Greywater is, in practice, non-processed wastewater that is the by-product of bathing, washing clothes or dishes – water with little contamination. Once it has been treated, it can be reused for flushing toilets and watering green areas. Clean water and greywater systems must be fully separated from each other, and they work well in large industrial buildings with hundreds of employees.

Further modernisation of the Polish industrial sector is a must in the short- and long-term

The cost factor is set to gain in importance on the Polish logistics market in the near future, propelling the adoption of increasingly efficient technologies and the green transformation.

The Polish market remains very attractive compared to its closest competitors, with energy, labour and warehouse lease costs still a third lower than in the Czech Republic and over 60% lower than in Germany. The quality of its logistics facilities is also improving thanks to a wider use of energy-efficient and sustainable solutions.

Last Updated on April 26, 2023 by Anastazja Lach