Logistics developers are incorporating sustainable design features and operators are utilising more green technologies across their storage and distribution networks.

Warehouse owners and operators are becoming more aware of the benefits of incorporating sustainable design features such as skylights, recycling facilities, bike racks and electric car charging points. They are motivated to maintain environmentally-friendly facilities, not just for economic or environmental reasons, but to improve the quality of the working environment for their staff. 

Talent attraction and retention is becoming a vital consideration for the logistics sector. High quality workplace design, enhanced amenities, increasing natural light are some of the ways employers are striving to better the working environment and improve the ability to attract and retain staff. Employers are also developing wellness initiatives, increasing social activities and promoting better physical and mental health for employees.

Aside from design, the location of the warehouse is an important aspect for sustainability. Operators want their distribution centres to be located close to transport links and their consumer base in order to minimise costs and emissions, not only for their delivery fleet but also for their staff commuting to work. Being able to commute on public transport is often a key consideration for workers.

Consumers demand sustainably sourced products and delivery methods

Consumer demand for environmentally friendly, ethical and sustainable products and delivery methods is also helping spur growth of sustainable ‘last mile’ delivery methods. Emissions charges, traffic congestion and parking restrictions are also driving up the time and cost involved for deliveries within city centre locations. Logistics operators are thus exploring alternative transportation modes and this is driving demand for new types of logistics properties such as micro-consolidation centres for the dispatch of bike and trike couriers. 

As electric and autonomous vehicle technology improves, we expect there will be a significant impact on cargo fleets as vehicles will be able to travel further without stopping and at greater speeds. These technological developments will have implications for warehouse and logistics sites.

Multi-modal transport networks and urban logistics

Initiatives to reduce the amount of road traffic in city centres are driving some cities to develop and promote other modes of transport for the movement of freight.

Though multi-modal logistics services are difficult to implement for the “last mile”, in France and Japan they are being successfully implemented for high volume freight movements as part of the “mile before last”, bringing goods into an urban area for onward distribution. 

These multi-modal transport networks require specialised logistics facilities; their locations led by the transport infrastructure they rely upon. There is great scope for multi-modal solutions in the UK, however the significant infrastructure requirements mean that such initiatives would likely need to be government driven.