What’s in store for Industrial & Logistics Project Management?

2022 is expected to be another robust year for the Asia Pacific industrial real estate sector.

15 Mar 2022

By Vikram Vidyala

What’s in store for Industrial & Logistics Project Management?

As covered in CBRE’s 2022 Asia Pacific Real Estate Market Outlook, 2022 is expected to be another robust year for the Asia Pacific industrial real estate sector, building on growth from 2021.

Across APAC, we have seen how the massive movement by consumers towards online retail during the pandemic has translated into logistics space demand being rapidly driven by expansion in the e-commerce operations and omnichannel distribution space. In addition to robust expansionary demand, we foresee a rise in flight-to-quality requirements, as more occupiers seek modern logistics facilities to enhance operational efficiency and install automation and other logistics technology, for example automated stacking systems, sufficient loading/unloading zones, and back-up power equipment for warehouse tech cold storage.

These demands have certainly helped to shape certain project requirements on the project management front. We have seen that limited land availability in urban cities is fuelling the vertical development of multi-storey warehouses. On top of that, the ongoing e-commerce boom and companies seeking to commit to net zero goals have both placed a timely spotlight on how workers in the industry use these spaces and its effect on productivity – creating a flight towards warehouse facilities that place worker well-being, and sustainability, at the heart of operations.

The future is green: Green warehouses and industrial facilities

The biggest trend to note is the continued drive towards the construction of more green, safe and hygienic warehouses and industrial facilities. For warehouses, going green can not only significantly reduce the running costs of a warehouse facility, it also provides clear environmental benefits. Green warehouses are growing traction in the region, especially if we consider that the industrial sector consumes over half of the world’s energy. High energy usage is not only costly to the global environment due to rising carbon emissions, but also prevents companies from maximizing profits, with high utility bills eating into company revenue.

Since warehouses and industrial facilities occupy such a substantial footprint, the long-term benefits of constructing them in a sustainable way are manifold. Developing and managing sustainable industrial projects is ultimately positive for the health of our planet, makes companies more competitive and better valued within society. There has never been a more crucial time to apply project management measures that promote sustainability, as well as facility optimization, including those dedicated to storage.

Why go green? Focusing on worker well-being within green industrial and warehouse facilities

Workers in green building conditions performed better, with higher cognitive brain scores and improved performance, according to a Harvard School of Public Health study.

Some features that occupiers can consider implementing within their projects, to support and improve worker comfort include insulation, which can save energy and improve working conditions. Materials that have lower polluting properties like specialized paints, adhesives, wood products, sealants and carpeting can improve the building’s air quality to ensure the long-term safety of workers in an otherwise hazardous or pollutive environment.

Cooling and heating systems can be less efficient in warehouses, which are vast, open spaces. Fortunately, these systems are not needed in every climate or season. Some warehouses find that high volume low speed (HVLS) fans are efficient at moving cool or warm air around the facility, to keep workers comfortable while decreasing energy use. They can be helpful even in climates requiring air conditioning or heating.

In an industrial facility for a leading engineering company at Aurangabad, Maharashtra, India, the facility had been designed to comply with LEED Silver certification and FM Global standards. We installed low water fixtures to reduce water consumption by up to 20%, sensor lights inside the shop floor and HVLS fans for comfort. To mitigate high temperatures faced in the region throughout the year, we also proposed roofing and side wall insulation for the shop floor area to maintain a consistent and comfortable internal temperature. Additional wellness facilities such as a creche, occupational health center, a recreational area for staff to perform meditation and relax, and a gym for staff to unwind after a long day have all been built in the utility building.

Improving operational efficiency through energy-saving features for green warehouses

Occupiers look for facilities that have a good chance of operational efficiency to reduce their operating costs. Certifications such as IGBC, LEED, GEM, etc give this stamp of approval and assurance that industrial facilities have been designed and built to sustainable specifications.

LED lighting is the main sustainable upgrade for pre-existing industrial units in India, while smart systems with sensors can not only monitor lighting needs and industrial floor occupancy but can be used for other types of resource management, like gas and water. Submeters can monitor refrigeration units, machinery and other equipment for usage and energy savings.

This was done for a leading transportation company in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, measuring over 375,000 sq ft, where smart lighting controls and a building management system were implemented to monitor energy usage. We also planned for 100% day light utilization for the shop floor, increasing the natural visibility of the work space as broad-spectrum light distributes equally without diffusion, allowing employees to see things clearly without straining their eyesight, improving focus and productivity at work. At the same time, energy costs are kept low.

Industrial & Logistics park developers who want to improve sustainability within current facilities can further conduct a thermographic inspection, using a non-intrusive infrared imaging technique to identify uncontrolled heat gain or heat loss. The doors, walls and roof can be scanned to find possible improvements.

Roofs can also hold solar energy panels as a sustainable, alternative source of energy. Third parties can install solar power panels, reducing the cost to the occupier or warehouse owner by supplying less expensive energy to use in the building. As such, we had installed these solar panels on the entire roof area of the shop floor in the industrial facility for a leading engineering company.

In Singapore, we were also appointed to work with a German microscope manufacturing company active in the life sciences space, on delivering a transformative industrial project – a fully air-conditioned (including warehousing and packing), high-tech manufacturing plant that will house optics, assembly, research and development, warehousing and corporate office functions in one place.

When it is ready in 2023, this technologically-driven industrial project, with Class 100k clean room manufacturing spaces, will rethink traditional ideas around industrial spaces, by placing sustainability, wellness and safety first – fulfilling Green Mark Gold, FM Global requirements and implement smart technology in line with Singapore’s Industry 4.0 standards.

The green revolution – and our part in it

When one thinks of a “green building,” perhaps office buildings typically come to mind, since there are a myriad of green certifications in place to optimize office projects. In the midst of the green revolution, we must now recognize the value of sustainably designing a different kind of building: green warehouses and industrial facilities.

We must dare to dream and imagine a future of work in which all workers are treated with respect and dignity within industrial projects, and recreate their experiences on the job as experiences that are positive, safe and sustainable, contributing to their well-being. Such a future is within our grasp as a society. Achieving it is a collaborative effort with the client — to acknowledge the importance of fostering a healthy and inclusive future within green warehouses — and proactively take action on that knowledge.

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