commercial green building design and constructionAt its core, green building design and construction is about reducing environmental impact and increasing sustainability. Usually the focus is on the big things: building materials, amounts of daylight, air quality, water efficiency, etc. However, there’s one major feature of a commercial building you might not have given much thought to, but it will greatly affect sustainability – storage.

You might be wondering how storage – something that’s usually an afterthought – can make such a big difference in designing and constructing green commercial buildings. Well that’s what we are here to tell you…and surprisingly it all starts with houses.

What Do Trends in House Sizes Have to Do with Commercial Buildings?

According to the National Association of Home Builders, in 1950 the average single family home was around 1,000 sq. ft. The current Census Bureau for 2013 has the average single family home sitting at about 2,600 sq. ft.

Why do we need so much more space? It’s not because we are having more children; in fact, we’re having less. What’s changed over the years is consumer spending.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) publication 100 Years of U.S. Consumer Spending (a very long, but extremely interesting read) shows how over the years our spending habits have changed from strict necessities to other items. And at the very end the authors make this statement in their discussion:

In the 21st century, households throughout the country have purchased computers, televisions, iPods, DVD players, vacation homes, boats, planes, and recreational vehicles. They have sent their children to summer camps; contributed to retirement and pension funds; attended theatrical and musical performances and sporting events; joined health, country, and yacht clubs; and taken domestic and foreign vacation excursions.

So again…why do we need so much more space in our houses? Because we have so much more stuff to store!

Examples of Changes in the Workplace that Have Affected Storage

But of course you’re wondering, how does this relate to commercial buildings? Well, businesses have mirrored the same trends: changes in the workplace and how we work have affected the amount of items that need to be stored.

Here are some examples:

Since the advent of the copy machine and the printer, corporate offices are required to store all kinds of records and documents that didn’t exist before.

Police departments store property and evidence for years. And with new developments in forensic technology, there’s more evidence than ever.

Hospitals are able to diagnose and treat illnesses better than ever, but that requires more tissue and blood samples in addition to the ever growing medical supplies that need to be kept on hand.

Distribution facilities are bigger than ever with the rise of e-commerce and internet shopping. Keeping a massive amount of items stocked for quick shipping is not optional in today’s fast paced environment.

The Storage System that Will Keep Your Building Greenthree principles of sustainability for storage systems and building design

With all this stuff to store, it’s tempting to do the same thing to commercial buildings that we’ve done to houses – increase the size. But that goes against the very definition of green building design and construction mentioned earlier: reducing environmental impact and increasing sustainability. So how can you store all of this stuff while trying to remain green and not increase the size of the building?

The answer is simple. You do it with the right storage system. And one of the best is a Kardex automated storage and retrieval system. These systems focus on three principles of sustainability known as the triple bottom line: planet, people and profitability.

Planet/Environmental Stewardship

A big part of environmental stewardship means protecting the air, water and land while conserving resources, including fossil fuels. One way to accomplish this task is to construct smaller buildings, which you can do with the help of a Kardex automated storage and retrieval system.

Using a Kardex system, you can save up to 85% of the storage space that you would typically use with file cabinets, drawer systems, static shelving, or pallet racking. And overall, you can reduce the total building construction footprint by up to 15%.

People/Social Responsibility

Improving the quality of life and equity for individuals, communities and society as a whole sounds like a lot to ask from a storage system, but that’s exactly what the Kardex automated storage and retrieval systems do. And it starts with the “goods to person principle”.

The goods to person principle means that items (goods) are delivered to the operator (person) rather than the operator retrieving the items. What is unique to the Kardex systems is that the counter where the items are delivered can be adjusted. This means each employee can work in an ergonomically correct or ADA accessible position and still have 100% access to any stored item.

Profit/Economic Prosperity

For any organization remaining prosperous is vitally important. Reducing costs, adding value and creating economic opportunity ensures people stay in business. But can a storage system really help? The answer is yes.

With a Kardex system, operator productivity increases up to 66%. Optimizing the amount of labor required to perform certain tasks helps to reduce the building’s energy consumption and carbon footprint.

A Kardex System for Every Application to Keep Buildings Sustainable

learn more about kardex automated storage and retrieval systems

There are many different types of Kardex automated storage and retrieval systems including horizontal carousels, vertical carousels, and vertical lift modules. Depending on what’s being stored, adding one of these systems to your building will help to reduce your environmental impact and increase sustainability. And that’s what green building design and construction is all about.