Water is worth its weight in gold – how could the logistics sector cut water consumption?

Water recycling can help reduce clean water consumption in a building by up to 50% and water service charges by up to 90%, reveals global real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield in its recent report Industrial Goes Green, which contains a comprehensive review of the most popular sustainable solutions in the warehouse sector.

Although there was no shortage of rainfall in the last summer months, drought remains an issue in Poland. According to the Polish government agency Państwowe Gospodarstwo Wodne Wody Polskie (Polish Waters / National Water Management Authority), approximately 10% of Poland’s territory is affected by agricultural drought and low water levels are observed on 51% of the staff gauges of the hydrological monitoring network[1]. Drought is therefore not just a catchword in newspaper headlines, but an actual problem whose consequences we are beginning to notice.

According to Polish Waters, in order to slow down this process, we need to retain and recycle water so that we do not use additional water resources. In the latest Industrial Goes Green report from Cushman & Wakefield, the firm’s experts and report partners present an in-depth analysis of this issue in the warehouse sector and solutions that can help cut water consumption by up to 50%.

“Warehouse facilities have limitless stretches of roofs and concrete space. Water retention is quite difficult and rainwater very often simply goes to waste, flowing down the concrete. The topography of a land on which a warehouse is situated may also hinder water retention as wide treeless spaces lacking in surface depressions frequently make up areas with temperatures above the ambient temperature. Recovery of rainwater or wastewater (greywater) may become relevant in several aspects: saving water, minimizing water service charges, and cooling the surface of the land by growing vegetation in green areas,” says Magda Gawron, Managing Partner, Proptech Foundation.

Rainwater recovery

One of the ways to reduce clean water consumption is to collect rainwater in warehouse tanks. Such water, when appropriately filtered, is odourless, colourless and free from solid impurities, and filters do not need to be replaced, but cleaned once every eight or ten years. It can be reused, among other things, for toilet flushing, plant watering, or technological equipment or process cooling in a building.

According to report authors, the key advantages of rainwater collection are as follows:

  • 30-50% savings on clean water for non-technological uses.
  • Up to 90% off water service charges (Water Resources Law).
  • Additional points in BREEAM and LEED certification programs.
  • The payback period is 4-6 years.

Rainwater has a positive effect on plants, says the report, as – unlike tap water – it is poor in calcium and is therefore better absorbed by plants. 

“The lack of calcium compounds also has a positive effect on systems and equipment as there’s no limescale build-up. In practice, in the case of rainwater from rooftops, multistage filtration combined with activated charcoal filtration and – optionally – UV disinfection will most often be sufficient,” says report author Ryszard Gwóźdź, Senior Industrial Technical Manager, Cushman & Wakefield.

According to Cushman & Wakefield’s survey, 28% of the surveyed developers have already implemented this solution, with another 36% planning to do so in the near future. The main reason cited by the respondents for using this technology was ensuring sustainable solutions in a company, and for not using it – the lack of occupiers’ interest.

Greywater recycling

Another way of saving water that is gaining traction is to recycle greywater, namely waste bath, washing and sink water. According to experts, it offers an advantage of non-reliance on rainfall. This technology will prove most successful in buildings with many showers as it will easily satisfy all the requirements for plant watering or toilet flushing.

According to experts of Cushman & Wakefield, this technology offers the following benefits:

  • Treated water is odourless, clear and entirely safe to use.
  • The greywater recycling system will prove most successful in buildings with hundreds of employees.
  • With the appropriate choice of a system and heavy water use, the payback period is 4-8 years.

“Greywater can be used to complement or substitute rainwater, and used instead of clean water. This solution is justified mainly on sustainability grounds. It also provides cost savings on account of lower consumption of clean water, and due to the still low cost of the latter, this solution will gain in significance as more water is used. It can therefore be particularly interesting to occupiers who use substantial water volumes for their processes, for example, data centre or manufacturing tenants,” says Ryszard Gwóźdź.

Cushman & Wakefield’s survey has revealed that 27% of the developers have already implemented this technology and that 36% are planning to do so in the future. The main reason cited is also ensuring sustainability.

“Greywater recycling requires more financial spend and technological investments, but it will become standard in a few years’ time or even required by law if the measures governments or societies are taking now prove inadequate to combat drought and water costs increase several times. Companies that will be ahead of this trend and will invest now, may well be ready for the new reality and related risks,” adds Magda Gawron.

Green revolutions

There are far more solutions that can help protect the environment. Cushman & Wakefield’s report addresses such issues as: the use of heat recovery from air compressors, LED lighting, photovoltaics, ground heat exchangers, heat pumps, destratification fans, thermal performance of walls and roofs, as well as the use of CO2 as a coolant.

The report also contains a brief introduction to the above topics, an overview of the advantages and disadvantages of each solution and proposed improvements. The analysis includes examples of practical applications of sustainable solutions in warehouses throughout Poland. The report also presents findings from the authors’ pioneering, comprehensive industrial market survey of sustainable solutions in industrial buildings. Survey responses came from all leading industrial developers active in Poland.

All the proceeds from advertisements placed in the report by its partners will be donated to the Foundation for Energy Efficiency (FEWE) to support it in achieving its statutory goals. Developers who have joined this initiative include 7R, CTP, GLP, Logicor, Panattoni Europe, Prologis, and SEGRO.

The full report can be found here


Cushman & Wakefield

Last Updated on October 15, 2021 by Anastazja Lach