The rise in e-commerce over the past decade has revolutionized the way companies manage supply chains, as warehouse logistics operations require greater efficiency in order to keep up with customer demand. The future of these warehouses lies in sustainability - both to keep costs down by conserving resources and improving efficiency, and to reduce the environmental impact and carbon footprint of these operations.
Having a solid strategy for warehouse operations can lead to increased efficiency and a reduced environmental impact. ASTM E3056-16, Standard Guide for Strategic Warehousing, was developed by ANSI member and audited designator ASTM International to provide considerations for effectively managing warehouse facilities and the contents of warehouses.
Another method of conserving resources in warehouses is the use of light fixtures with daylighting sensors. These fixtures allow buildings to operate without any artificial lighting at times when daylight coming through the windows is sufficient. These can offer significant savings in addition to resource conservation. IEC has a standard for sensors that determine light levels: IEC 62386-304, Digital Addressable Lighting Interface - Part 304: Particular Requirements - Input Devices - Light Sensor. This standard was developed by IEC Technical Committee (TC) 34, Lamps and related equipment. The U.S. National Committee (USNC) U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) administrator to this TC is National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA).
Temperature control is another element of warehouse operations that can consume large amounts of resources if sustainability measures are not considered. High-volume, low-speed (HVLS) fans create convection-like air currents that remove hot, humid air and replace it with drier air. They can be employed to reduce the amount of air-conditioning needed to keep warehouses at a comfortable temperature, making them a popular choice in the green building movement. And the Uniform Mechanical Code (UMC), a model code developed by the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO), is designated as an American National Standard and is utilized to govern the installation, inspection, and maintenance of HVAC (heating, ventilating and air-conditioning) and refrigeration systems. IAPMO is an ANSI member and audited designator.
ANSI constituents are involved in the greener warehouses in other ways, too. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), an ANSI member and accredited standards developer, offers LEED certification for sustainability practices specific to warehouses, as their unique needs in energy use, site selection, and resource usage separate them from more heavily occupied buildings.
NEMA, an ANSI member and accredited standards developer, offers stakeholders information on electrical submeters. This technology gives building managers valuable visibility into their equipment's energy use and performance, allowing them to monitor where improvements can be made.
The U.S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standardsand Technology (NIST) maintains a Sustainable Manufacturing Indicator Repository (SMIR) with centralized access to sustainability indicator databases. This provides companies with information to more easily measure their sustainability performance, aiming for minimal use of natural resources, reduced use of toxic substances, reduced production of waste, and net-zero greenhouse gas creation. Further, NIST's Engineering Laboratory conducts research to support programs towards sustainability and energy efficiency in manufacturing processes and products.
As more companies strive to meet consumer expectations for two- and three-day shipping, merging sustainable technology and resources with improved efficiency will help shape a greener future, and call for the continued support of standardization.