Green Warehousing Crucial to Meeting Wider Sustainability Efforts

Green Warehousing Crucial to Meeting Wider Sustainability Efforts

GAC Qatar’s new warehouse was built with sustainability at its core and is designed to drive operational efficiencies

The Middle East will be in the global spotlight when Dubai hosts the next instalment of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 28) in November.

It is a timely choice of venue, following UAE President Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s declaration of 2023 as the ‘Year of Sustainability’ featuring a range of initiatives, activities and events to showcase the country’s commitment to sustainable development and innovations to tackle the climate crisis head-on.

And the UAE is not alone - other countries across the Middle East are embracing innovative thinking for decarbonisation with their eye on a more sustainable future.

District cooling system - an energy efficient climate friendly Ammonia Chilled Water Refrigeration System
District cooling system - an energy efficient climate friendly Ammonia Chilled Water Refrigeration System

The region has long been a trade hub – and its importance is growing. It is at the crossroads of global commerce connecting Asia and Europe, home to key shipping routes such as the Suez Canal and the Strait of Hormuz, and boasts world-leading logistics facilities, ports and airports.

GAC Qatar Opens New Green Warehouse in Qatar Free Zones

As countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region look to decarbonise, they must also look to ways to reduce the carbon footprint of their increasingly essential logistics services to make them more sustainable in the long term.

Eco-friendly approach

Green buildings have been touted as one of the most cost-effective sustainable initiatives, particularly for built-up urban developments. Such sustainable buildings can minimise energy outputs and water consumption, some to the extent of becoming complete self-sufficiency.

An eco-friendly approach for the logistics sector means shoring up sustainability of warehouses and distribution facilities with installing green features such as solar panels and rainwater systems and implementing technology to improve their day-to-day operational efficiency.

GAC contract logistics warehouse
GAC contract logistics warehouseraymond

Henrik Althén, General Manager of GAC Qatar said: “Warehouses are increasingly being called upon to embrace sustainable practices and be eco-friendly.

"The transport sector is responsible for a huge amount of carbon emissions globally, so making small-scale changes and ensuring your distribution centre is as green as possible is imperative in the fight against climate change."

New warehouses are popping up all over the Gulf as logistics service providers adapt to meet the requirements of a booming e-commerce market. However, meeting those needs with an eco-friendly approach can be a delicate tightrope to be walked.

Forward thinking

In December 2022, GAC Qatar applied a green approach when it opened its new 27,000 m2 multi-user contract logistics facility and office building in Ras Bufontas Free Zone.

It features 40,000 pallet positions as well as four temperature and humidity-controlled chambers to serve a wide range of sectors, including food and beverages and fast-moving consumer goods.

“The warehouse was built with sustainability at its core, in terms of building materials, methods and technology, including specialised wall panels to control the internal temperature,” said Adrian Peiris, GAC Qatar’s Business Manager for Contract Logistics.

The building and its construction methods are Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS)-certified.

To improve the energy output of the warehouse, GAC installed various features including environmentally-friendly controlled thermal insulation, thermal transmittance technology, advanced building management systems and LED lighting with motion sensors.

It also uses 100% recycled water from in-built storage building air coolers and plans to install solar panels.

This approach to green warehousing could provide a blueprint for future warehousing operations across the Middle East. A forward-thinking mindset can help regional logistics providers save huge costs down the line as it makes operational efficiencies much easier to implement.

GAC Qatar office and warehouse in Ras Bufontas Free Zone Doha Qatar
GAC Qatar office and warehouse in Ras Bufontas Free Zone Doha Qatar

Adrian added: “Creating an eco-friendly warehouse or logistics centre wasn’t just a box-ticking exercise for us. We explored the options available in the market, individually picking features and materials that would meet our warehouse requirements in a sustainable manner.

“We also considered right from the onset, how the facility will be used in 5-10 years’ time. We made provisions to enable us to build on what we already have if we need to seamlessly and sustainably expand the facility to cater to new services or space requirements for customers.

"That will have a huge impact on the building’s future carbon footprint as we won’t need to start from scratch and hire huge teams and vehicles to increase capacity.”

Win-win situation

More and more customers are seeking to work with logistics that embrace green innovations.

“Sustainable practices are now a crucial element of today’s modern logistics market,” said Henrik.

“By adopting green logistics, logistics providers in the Middle East can improve productivity and reduce costs, while demonstrating a commitment to sustainable future – something global stakeholders are increasingly looking for."

“That approach can result in a win-win scenario for both the logistics provider and its customers.”

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Transport and Logistics ME