Energy efficiency is all the buzz these days. But, for commercial temperature-controlled warehouses across the United States, going green is more than simply turning off the lights at the end of the night—it’s become a way of life. So, what does an environmentally-friendly third-party cold storage facility have to do with your company? Well, a lot more than you may think.

With electricity being the second largest expense, cold storage logistics providers are continually investing in sustainability efforts. And, when a temperature-controlled warehouse becomes more energy efficient, it can also benefit your food production, retail or service business.

Get back to the basics

Remember when collecting and recycling box tops for education was all the rage? What if we went back to recycling more of the basic materials that we use every day? That’s exactly where it starts. There are tons of opportunities for recycling packaging materials, labels, pallets and all sorts of resources in the supply chain industry. For example, the batteries used in our fleet of 4,400 material handling equipment vehicles, used to shuttle product and equipment throughout our warehouses, are the size of a very large, very heavy suitcase, however they’re upwards of 98% recyclable. In 2015, Americold Logistics, Atlanta, worked with its national partner to recover 1.2 million pounds of material for re-use from those batteries.

Achieve energy efficient operations

Speaking of turning off the lights, it’s indeed the simple task of lighting these vast cold rooms that attributes up to 15% of a refrigerated facility’s power consumption. Replacing typical metal halide bulbs with LED equivalents can result in efficiency gains of up to 80%. Take that one step further by adding motion-sensing technology to activate the lighting only when associates are operating in that part of the facility further adds to the level of efficiency. Dozens of Americold’s facilities have already been retrofitted with motion-sensing LED lighting systems, and continues to implement this technology into all new expansions, modernizations and new build plans.

Monitor daily energy use

Being proactive, even with energy consumption, is the difference between guessing and knowing what a monthly energy bill will be. Modern technology, like real-time energy monitoring, means that we’re no longer looking in the rearview mirror, waiting for the power bill to arrive. We can precisely forecast our energy spend, and know exactly where the money will be spent. We’ve partnered with some of the leading energy monitoring service providers who’ve empowered us with facility-level energy monitoring directly from a desktop application. We’ve implemented energy utilization standards at each one of our 145 U.S. sites that indicate exactly how much energy a facility should be using based on a given occupancy level, product profile and season. Out-of-tolerance readings trigger an alert to local management, so issues can be resolved quickly, allowing us to maintain efficient operations without missing a beat.

Make sustainability communal

Becoming green is a team sport with numerous resources available in your own community, including for example, the demand response programs available from utility companies. These programs operate in partnership with commercial customers, in which during periods of anticipated high demand, the utility company will look to some of its commercial customers to reduce power draw. Americold participates in every available demand response program offered by utility companies in the United States, Australia and New Zealand. Because Americold’s facilities are well insulated, it can draw down the compressors with no adverse effect on facility temperature stability for the short periods of time the load shedding request is in play. This commitment to supporting local utility companies avoids power blackouts during demand spikes, reduces overall need to generate power and keeps the lights on and the air conditioning working for residential customers. 

Explore alternative energy solutions

Energy savings enable companies to explore and invest in additional, alternative energy solutions, like natural gas fuel cells and solar power generation. Americold’s Salinas, Calif., facility generates more than 600,000kWh per year from a natural gas fuel cell that converts natural gas to clean energy. This alone reduces the CO2e footprint by over 1 million pounds per year. The Gloucester, Mass., site was retrofitted with roof-mounted solar units that generate up to 500,000kWh of clean energy per year. Through these pilot programs, we’re able to evaluate the cost effectiveness of alternative energy options for other facilities. And, our efforts are paying dividends. Since 2010, we’ve cumulatively saved more than 220,000,000 kWh of electricity—that’s enough to power more than 22,000 homes for a year. Convert that to CO2 equivalents and that equates to over 180,000,000 pounds that’s avoided being released into the atmosphere.

Advancements in technology will continue to lead to more efficient and effective operations, and Americold is dedicated to appraising and implementing system and process evolutions as often as possible as part of its ongoing corporate social responsibility program.

At the end of the day, when we win, you win. You can claim all of these programs as part of your sustainability action plan, and know that you have an environmentally-responsible service partner who has your best interest at heart. Think of us an extension of your efforts, and how working together to improve these plans will be the differentiator for sustainability in all of our futures.