Helping Distribution Centers Meet Climate Commitments with Sustainable Concrete

The demand for warehouse space and distribution centers is on the rise, driven in part by the booming e-commerce industry.

This has created an opportunity for concrete producers and building manufacturers to help their clients meet their climate commitments and sustainability goals. 

But warehouse projects often come with specialized and specific needs. In a recent panel discussion, moderator Christie Gamble, Senior Director of Sustainability at CarbonCure Technologies, talked to various stakeholders about their experiences in bringing sustainability to four distribution center projects. 

Christie was joined by:


Establishing Trust

Sudler is a family-run commercial real estate company managing approximately 12 million square feet (1,114,837 square metres) across the U.S. Fox Hill Business Park, one of their latest developments, is a Class A business park covering 2.5 million square feet (232,258 square metres) in Greenville County, South Carolina. 

The company recognized the strong long-term growth potential of Greenville County and wanted to find a way to make a splash with the new development and become best in class. The company connected with Thomas Concrete, a leading supplier of ready mix concrete in the Southeast U.S. and a CarbonCure partner since 2016.

Thomas Concrete was able to address any technical questions from project stakeholders around CarbonCure’s technology. “It was a really important conversation to have to establish that trust. We explained that we would develop performance-based mixed designs to match the mix with the mission, so that we could create a state-of-the-art structure to bring economic value and environmental value to the community,” said Joy.

Ultimately the project stakeholders, including Buchanan Concrete and Pattillo Construction Corporation, came on board and the use of CarbonCure’s concrete solution saved over 132,000 pounds (59,874 kilograms) of CO2.

“This is a big win for us,” said Brian from Sudler. “We got some terrific feedback and there's been press all over the place. We're now in the forefront of ESG (Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance) and sustainable development, which is very exciting.”

Safeguarding Quality

MDH Partners is an Atlanta-based real estate investment company with about 25 million square feet (2,322,576 square metres) either purchased or developed across 20 markets. 

They recently used CarbonCure’s concrete solution in two projects: a 226,000 square foot (20,996 square metre) speculative distribution building in Mount Juliet, Tennessee, and a project consisting of a 330,000 square foot (30,658 square metre) building and a 114,000 square foot (10,591 square metres) building in Huntersville, North Carolina.

As Chris puts it, the slabs are the heart of these buildings, and their durability and finishing characteristics are critical to the success of the project. MDH needed to safeguard the high level of quality they required in their concrete.

To do that, they turned to their concrete suppliers on the projects — Irving Materials, Inc. (imi) and Thomas Concrete — and worked together to develop mix designs that met their technical requirements. MDH’s engineering and design teams reviewed these mix designs and the structural characteristics of the concrete, vigorously exploring any potential issues.

“We were really trying to determine if there were reasons not to use the product. After going through and checking off all those boxes, we couldn't find a reason,” said Chris. “Despite a pretty significant bias in our industry to stick with the tried and true, we moved forward with the projects and had great results.”

imi, a building materials supplier in the midwestern and southern U.S., partnered with MDH on the Tennessee distribution center. 

Although imi had been testing and using CarbonCure’s concrete solution for close to four years, this project gave the company an opportunity to take a deeper dive into two main mix designs: the slab-on-grade mix and the tilt-up panel mix. Testing was extensive, and included bleed water and shrinkage testing.

“We made sure we were doing our part as far as providing quality so that the project was successful,” said Mike. “I can't brag enough about it. All our test results came out great.” 

The two projects resulted in a combined savings of over 500,000 pounds (226,796 kilograms) of CO2.

“CarbonCure is a fantastic opportunity to achieve meaningful carbon footprint reductions and to do so in a way that doesn't compromise the quality of our buildings or the financial returns for our projects.”

Chris Stanley, Senior Managing Director of Development at MDH Partners

Doing the Right Thing

General contractor Shiel Sexton is an employee-owned company based in Indiana and licensed in 20 states. Sustainable practices, and developments such as wind farms, are increasing in popularity in the Midwest. 

The company was contracted to build Sunbeam Building 3, a 700,000 square foot (65,032 square metre) distribution center just west of Indianapolis, for the Sunbeam Development Corporation. The build included over 15,000 cubic yards (11,468 cubic metres) of concrete made with CarbonCure’s technology, supplied by imi. This meant a savings of almost 428,000 pounds (194,138 kilograms) of CO2, which is equivalent to 254 acres (103 hectares) of forest absorbing CO2 for a year.

Throughout their years of working with CarbonCure’s concrete technology, the company and their concrete finishers have been more than satisfied with the results. “We see no difference. There's no cost impact on us. The finishing is better than without having CarbonCure in it and it's the right thing to do,” said Kevin. “We've used it on any projects that we can from office buildings, to warehouses, to distribution, to industrial, to healthcare, across the market that we work in every day.”

Conclusion

Bringing sustainable innovation to distribution center construction projects means involving multiple stakeholders and working to specific technical requirements. These four distribution center case studies showcase how CarbonCure’s sustainable concrete technology offers stakeholders an opportunity to reduce embodied carbon, meet their climate commitments and achieve their sustainability goals without compromising the integrity of the concrete.

Find out more by watching the recorded panel discussion: From Storing Goods to Storing Carbon – Distribution Center Case Studies.


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