Trends-February 2008

The push for green compliance is slowly permeating the logistics sector as businesses find greater incentives for designing and constructing distribution and retail facilities with sustainability guidelines in mind.

As an example of this emerging trend, ProLogis, the world’s largest owner and developer of distribution facilities, recently introduced a directive mandating that all new developments in the United States comply with environmental standards established by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), a nonprofit building industry group that promotes sustainable development.

The initiative, which began in January 2008, includes all new projects currently in the design or planning stage, as well as future expansions.

As part of the program, the developer registers each building with the USGBC to be considered for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification – the U.S. standard for environmentally responsible construction.

“We have made significant strides with sustainable warehouse design and construction, and are utilizing best practices at our projects around the globe,” says Walt Rakowich, president and COO of ProLogis.

“By incorporating design elements for LEED certification in all our new distribution spaces in the United States, we help to extend the lifetime of our buildings, ensure they perform to the highest standards of environmental construction, and provide our customers with distribution facility options that further their own sustainability agendas,” he adds.

Currently, ProLogis has 3.5 million square feet under design or construction in the United States for which it is pursuing LEED certification. The company anticipates similar development activity in 2008 compared with last year, when it began new projects totaling more than 11 million square feet and 39 buildings.

“We see a growing preference among customers to lease space in buildings that have been developed with environmental efficiency in mind,” observes Jack Rizzo, managing director of global construction for ProLogis.

“Through good design standards, ProLogis’ facilities already receive more than half of the credits required for basic LEED certification and we are confident our new sustainable warehouse construction guidelines will help secure the additional credits needed.”

“We anticipate this initiative will not only prove to be a successful experience for the company and our customers, but will drive further change throughout the real estate industry,” he adds.

Meanwhile, leading retailers such as Wal-Mart are making efforts to build footprints that are equally attuned to emerging environmental compliance standards. The Bentonville, Ark.-headquartered company recently opened an eco-friendly store in Romeoville, Ill., to kick-start a long-term effort at building “greener” stores.

Wal-Mart’s second generation High-Efficiency prototype (HE.2) store in Romeoville is designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and use 25 percent less energy than a typical Supercenter. The Romeoville store is the first of four to open this year.

The HE.2 design features many of the energy improvements from the first generation High-Efficiency (HE.1) series as well as new technologies.

“We’ve taken the most efficient prototype in the retail industry and made it even better by incorporating some of the most innovative products in building today,” says Eric Zorn, president, Wal-Mart Realty. “We hope to continue making our stores even more efficient and share our learning with the world, as we work toward a more sustainable future for our company and our customers.”

The five-percent improvement in energy efficiency over the HE.1 stores comes from a streamlined design of water-source heating, cooling, and refrigeration systems, coupled with a new secondary refrigeration loop. This is the first time this technology has been paired with a water-source system.

The HE.2 store components include:

  • 100 percent integrated water-source format heating, cooling, and refrigeration system, where water is used to heat and cool the building.
  • A secondary refrigeration loop that reduces refrigerant by 90 percent.
  • Motion-activated, light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in refrigerated and freezer cases, plus additional glass doors on deli and dairy cases.
  • A pump package that is 50 percent smaller than in the HE.1 store.
  • Daylight harvesting technology.
  • A reflective white membrane roof.
  • Recycled construction materials such as fly-ash and slag.

Grading U.S. Roads

Freight shippers hugging the centerline prefer towing in the Lone Star State more than the bayou.

Texas, Florida, Tennessee, Virginia, and Ohio are among the top states for road quality, according to Overdrive Magazine’s 17th-annual Highway Report Card.

On the other end of the divide, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, California, and Arkansas are sorely lacking in quality infrastructure. The survey polls more than 375 owner-operators with an average of more than 20 years in the industry on several different criteria.

Louisiana, named the state with the nation’s worst roads for the second consecutive year, continues to recover from hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Meanwhile, all-time worst offender Pennsylvania, which has topped the Worst Roads category for 12 of the survey’s 17 years, ranks second in terms of both worst and most-improved roads.

Texas tops more lists than any other state, ranking first in best roads, most available overnight truck parking, best truck stops, and best four-wheelers. Tennessee’s 450-mile segment of I-40 ranks as the best segment of road for the second year running.

Additional survey highlights:

Most respondents report road rage increased during the past year, with 31 percent saying it increased significantly.

New York beat out California for the honor of having the worst automobile drivers; Texas again had the best drivers.

Alabama continues to have the weakest truck inspections and law enforcement; California has the toughest.