Eco-warehouses. Konrad Lewiński, JLL: Today it is a necessity

Eco-friendly construction has become one of the most interesting trends in recent years. The market owes it to the growing pro-environmental awareness among tenants and the desire to reduce the costs of renting warehouse facilities. “Tenants are increasingly asking for green solutions,” says Konrad Lewiński, Director w JLL in the interview with How are developers adapting to market demands? What will be a standard in the construction of warehouse facilities in a few years? We encourage you to read the interview.

fot. Adapting solutions in their facilities to the latest trends in ecological construction has become an essential element of the strategy of the majority of developers in Poland. Why is ecology so popular in warehouses?

Konrad Lewiński, Director, JLL: This is mainly to follow the expectations of tenants, who increasingly often pay attention to ecological aspects. They are starting to ask developers whether a given building has solutions, for example, in the area of reducing energy consumption.

But this is not the only reason. New players and funds are entering the market and investing in ready-made projects. This means more competition and, consequently, new ideas for standing out, which often go in the direction of technological and ecological innovations.

And what is this eco-warehouse? What determines the eco-friendliness of a facility?

I believe that the concept of an eco-warehouse is treated too narrowly in Poland. Undoubtedly, an ecological warehouse can be defined as a facility which reduces the consumption of electricity, uses renewable energy sources, uses insulation preventing the loss of heat or saves water.

However, for all these solutions to make sense, there is another factor that must also be taken into account, one that largely determines whether a given warehouse will actually cause less pollution than a warehouse without such solutions.

The key to the approach to implementing a project in the form of an eco-warehouse is the tenant's choice of the facility's location. Let us imagine a situation in which a given company decides to lease a "green warehouse" in the Warmia and Mazury region, because there is a relatively low cost of labour there. The company will transport its goods to Lower Silesia because it sells its products in Wrocław.

Will the applied solution be environmentally friendly? Unfortunately, if the tenant were to make dozens of truck trips a week along a route of several hundred kilometres, then, even though the warehouse itself would be ecological, its location in the case of this tenant would cause a lot of pollution, which would not make the solution eco-friendly.

I think it's fair to say that eco-warehousing is not just about using methods to reduce a building's operating costs, but it's also about clever location to reduce your carbon footprint.

What specific applications are developers introducing today and what will be standard in two or three years?

I remember the first innovation that appeared on the market. It was LED lighting. Just three years ago it was an amazing innovation. Today it's an absolute standard. It's hard to imagine that a new building won't be equipped with LEDs. What's more, if tenants move into a building that's already, for example, 10 years old, then under the new lease agreement the owner of the building is obliged to replace the lighting with LEDs. This translates into real benefits for the tenant.

Another thing that is becoming standard year on year is the thermal insulation of a building. However, this issue is not decided only by developers themselves, but also by EU directives. Every few years, new European Union guidelines appear on how to design buildings in order to increase their energy efficiency.

Photovoltaic panels are also entering more and more frequently into warehouse or production facilities. Although I would say that this particular trend is developing very slowly. It will still take some time before panels can be called a popular solution, or even a standard one.

What has an impact on this?

In existing buildings, roofs were not designed to support an additional load of 30 kilograms per square metre. And this is required when photovoltaic panels are installed on the roof.

Additionally, it is not always obvious how to distribute the benefits of these panels among the tenants of a given warehouse. The problem also includes not-so-friendly legal solutions concerning entities having such an installation. The optimal solution would be to create a system that automatically calculates the benefits of solar energy. It will still be some time before photovoltaic panels in storage facilities become popular, although there are already developers who make it possible to make such an installation.

But that is not all?

Several developers are promoting grey water recycling, which means that the water we use to wash our hands goes into a tank and is reused in another part of the facility. This solution is definitely gaining and will continue to gain in popularity.

Customers who have been offered this option by one developer are sure to ask about it the next time they are negotiating. Such mechanisms will mean that in a short while more and more developers will offer grey water recovery.

An eco-warehouse means savings during use, and how much higher are expenses during construction?

The costs at the construction stage are not drastically higher. LED lighting, thermal insulation or water recycling do not increase construction costs by more than 10 percent. It is different in the case of a photovoltaic installation; here, the cost of equipping the warehouse with solar panels is quite high, but supplying the facility with energy from the panels is much cheaper than purchasing energy from a power plant, so this expenditure seems very reasonable and will certainly pay for itself within a few years of using the facility.

Do such solutions lead to higher rental rates?

This is not noticeable at the moment. Developers are simply raising the standard of their buildings. However, if these solutions become more advanced, rents in such facilities may indeed rise. However, it is worth remembering that the client will save on energy, heating or water bills.

You talk to many potential tenants on the market. Are certificates important to them? Do they arise interest?

There is a trend in the market in which large corporations will be aiming for zero carbon in the long term. Such goals are part of their long-term business plan. In this case, a certificate in a warehouse facility is extremely important, as only such a building can be rented.

The largest developers in Poland are increasingly opting for BREEAM certification. It is very likely that in a few years' time the certification of warehouse buildings will become a standard rather than a market requirement.

Can we say that only buildings with green solutions will be constructed now?

Absolutely. I think that every building being built today will have some kind of ecological solution. This is what the market demands. Otherwise the building will not be competitive.

Konrad Lewiński