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Light bulb moment: DHL reducing carbon footprint with lighting retrofit

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Global logistics giant DHL is launching a coordinated lighting retrofit program at its Global Forwarding unit warehousing and distribution facilities in the Americas region, part of an “interim target” of reaching a 5 percent improvement in carbon efficiency by the end of year.

The program initially will be rolled out in the U.S. before expanding to Canada and Mexico, the company said.

As part of parent Deutsche Post DHL and its GoGreen climate protection program, which debuted in North America last year, DHL Global Forwarding’s goal is to reduce its carbon footprint by 30 percent by 2020.

“In conventional warehousing operations, the single largest source of electrical energy consumption is often the lighting used within the facility,” the company says. “Thus, implementing energy efficient lighting setup and equipment can be a highly impactful carbon abatement strategy for facilities.”

The rollout of the lighting retrofit program at DHL Global Forwarding starts with DHL’s  operation in Philadelphia, then Atlanta, Dallas and Miami. The San Juan, Puerto Rico, operation is also planned in the initial rollout before expanding into Canada and Mexico, where assessments are already under way.

DHL estimates the a 5 percent improvement in lighting efficiency in the U.S. and Puerto Rico this year will translate into a utility cost reduction of 50 percent and a projected carbon reduction of 52 percent.

Citing a Delphi research study, DHL said, “Climate change and its consequences will have a far-reaching effect on logistics. As one of the largest producers of carbon emissions, the logistics industry will find itself in a particularly difficult position and under close scrutiny. The rising price of oil and the demand by customers for green supply chains will require enormous investments and technological innovation.”

A Delphi Study process provides an interactive communication structure between the researcher(s) and ‘experts’ in a field, in order to develop themes, needs, directions or predictions about a topic.

DHL Global Forwarding operations in Houston, Chicago and Los Angeles have already installed energy efficient lighting systems. In February 2008 DHL’s Toronto facility in Canada was built with sustainability in mind. The retrofitted lighting system installed in the Toronto facility is expected to yield a 73 percent reduction in energy consumption for lighting. In addition, “the building’s environmentally friendly design will result in greenhouse and noxious gas emission reductions equal to savings of more than 15,000 gallons of gasoline a year or driving 956 fewer miles each day,” the company said.

In a recent, related GoGreen development, DHL and The Logistics Institute – Asia Pacific of the National University of Singapore (NUS) established S$3 million (US$2.2 million) Sustainable Supply Chain Centre of Asia-Pacific (SSCCAP). The initiative “will be a best practice hub and intellectual property engine designed to drive sustainable supply chain development in the Asia-Pacific region,” DHL said.

It added: “The Centre will create practical business tools for the industry to establish benchmarks in areas of sustainable logistics solutions, involving research and education.”

The Centre opened in July and is hosted at the NUS TLI Asia-Pacific facility. In partnership with the Georgia Institute of Technology, TLI Asia-Pacific offers a Logistics Double Masters and Masters in Supply Chain Management.

Who knew that simply turning out the lights would yield such dramatic reduction in energy consumption?

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Written by William DiBenedetto

30 August, 2010 at 2:00 am

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