“Green house” or greenhouse gas emitter? What is your company’s take on sustainability? And how well do you know your company’s impact on the environment? At Alcott Global’s recent 2-day virtual Global Sustainable Supply Chain Summit 2021, Mathilde Dumoulin, Sustainability Development Manager for Bolloré Logistics Singapore Pte Ltd. took the audience through the steps to more sustainable warehousing.
As one of the world’s 500 largest companies, and an impressive 199 years of age, the Bolloré Group has “innovation engraved in [its] DNA”, and has long had a vested interest in sustainability. Its corporate social responsibility (CSR) agenda goes back almost 2 decades already, and, more recently, in 2018, it launched its “Powering Sustainable Logistics” program with the aim of cutting Scope 3 CO2 emissions by 30% by 2030 (compared to 2019), reducing waste and meeting the various UN SDGs.
Tomorrow’s view, today
Over in Singapore, Bolloré Logistics constructed its first green warehouse in 2012, already. Its sustainable pièce de resistance, however, the Blue Hub, was built in just 511 days and opened in 2019. The 50,000 m2 facility, which can store 60,000 pallets and handles more than 200,000 logistics transactions per month, has been awarded not only the LEED Gold logo and BiodiverCity® label, but also the prestigious Green Mark Platinum for its commitment to reducing environmental impact. With features such as a rainwater recycling system, IOT to monitor energy consumption, and methods to enhance natural lighting, the facility boasts impressive 87% savings in energy usage.
Solving problems that other solutions bring
Those energy savings are more than necessary. “What is the difference between warehouses yesterday and warehouses today?” Mathilde Dumoulin asks. The answer is that while people were the main movers in warehouses before, many warehouses today are automated to varying degrees. Whilst processes may be more productive and faster, the downside to automation is that it relies on energy, and therefore energy consumption rises.
She demonstrated how today’s warehouses consume double as much energy than before. “It is a problem: more automation means more electricity, therefore more pollution, and this means it contributes to climate change.”
The latter is already being considered in Singapore’s construction plans, given that the increase in temperatures is forecast to result in sea levels rising by up to 1 m by the end of the century, which will greatly impact the country. Singapore recently raised Nicoll Drive, a highway running along the seafront, by 0.8 m in 2016 in view of this fact, and Changi’s Terminal Five is due to be built at 5.5 meters above sea level.
Business as usual is a road to sustainability disaster
Mathilde Dumoulin pulled up a graph showing the development of Bolloré Logistics’ Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) from 2017 if the company continued to perform “business as usual”: by 2027, this would result in GHG emissions increasing by 133% over the 10 years. In order to meet the climate change challenge, however, they would need to decrease by -43% in absolute value. “So, how to bridge the gap?” she asked, and outlined potential solution suggestions. “Retrofit old buildings!” Doing what you can with what you already have, because every little bit helps, and not all companies have the luxury of building from scratch. It therefore makes sense to invest in an energy audit carried out by a third party, to establish your company’s key consumption factors. You could consider using LED lighting that run on motion sensors, deploying smart monitoring systems that regulate heating and air-condition temperatures based on weather forecasts and predictive analyses, as just two examples. The next step would be to leverage alterative energies such as making use of 100% renewable energies where possible. Solar panels were also suggested, however, she pointed to weighing up their true efficiency with regard to energy consumption versus generation. That said, Bolloré Logistics’ solar panel plan is projected to save 100 tons of CO2 emissions per annum.
More than just the environment
Bolloré Logistics’ business case for the Blue Hub combined its three main company focus areas: Sustainability, Innovation, and Employee Centricity, to construct a facility that fulfilled its production purpose, was safe and secure, and above all, sustainable not only from the environmental angle, but with a core quest on creating a workplace that employees want to come to. “Yes, we have automation, but we do still have and need people! Keep in mind that they make the company, and their environment should be pleasant to work in.”
On the one hand, the company looked to use natural building materials where feasible, and to enhance natural lighting wherever possible. On the other hand, ensuring that employees have access to areas where they can convene and relax during breaks – such as a large, naturally lighted canteen, or a roof-top garden with a pond, as is the case in the Blue Hub. It also includes recreational facilities such as a gym, pool table area, or special needs room. Keeping employees happy and healthy also makes for a more sustainable work environment.
The final advice was: “Whenever we need to make decisions, whether on new investments or retrofitting, sustainability now should always be at the heart of the decision.” What are the impacts and what are the possible savings with regard to sustainability?
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