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Future-proof your supply chain with sustainable innovation

Sponsored: Discover innovative strategies to reduce supply chain-related emissions and build a more sustainable and resilient energy future.

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Image courtesy of Prologis.

This article is sponsored by Prologis.

In the coming decades as the world electrifies to decarbonize, global energy demand will surge. Businesses must manage today’s pressures on their operations — such as geopolitical tension and labor disruptions — while investing in future-focused solutions such as renewable energy, electric vehicles and automation alongside artificial intelligence. To find the balance, leaders want to know what they can do to improve their efficiency today while planning for a sustainable tomorrow. 

As the global leader in logistics real estate with 1.2 billion square feet under management, we are uniquely positioned to help address supply chain decarbonization. Committed to net-zero emissions by 2030 in operations and by 2040 across our value chain, we've set concrete interim goals, including deploying 1 gigawatt of solar by 2025. In collaboration with our customers, we have an immense opportunity to innovate and decarbonize operations across the supply chain.

Here is how Prologis approaches sustainable logistics — from building conception to the sustainable movement of goods — and how your organization can future-proof its supply chain and drive lasting, sustainable impact.

Building low-carbon structures from the start

To support the goal of reducing emissions from the built environment — which includes all types of residential and commercial buildings — business owners need to optimize operational efficiency and build using low-carbon solutions. 

Our global construction innovation team is evaluating over 140 construction technologies to reduce our embodied carbon footprint. Plant-based materials — such as mass timber, wood fiberboard insulation and chemically augmented wood — present promising opportunities as they meaningfully reduce carbon emissions and are increasingly feasible economically. Circular products that incorporate post-consumer recycled materials — such as plastic roof membranes or supplementary cementitious materials in concrete — also provide opportunities to lower embodied carbon. 

With about 8 percent of global carbon emissions coming from cement alone, cement alternatives represent a big opportunity. Presently, cement requires significant energy to produce it and carbon dioxide is a biproduct of the chemical process to make it. As novel concrete mixtures mature, we aim to replace our use of traditional cement in concrete mixes with low carbon solutions. A change like this could achieve up to a 90 percent reduction in the carbon intensity of cement and concrete when production is powered with clean energy.

As the list of sustainable building practices and products continues to grow, adopting new innovations and deploying artificial intelligence is key for real change. With a global footprint and an expansive partner network, our intention is to test, validate and grow these solutions at scale. 

AI enables the industry to discover new ways to make sustainable concrete, steel, aluminum, glass, asphalt and more. Emerging AI applications may also aid in testing new materials by leveraging data sets to create simulated environments for various iterations of green materials. These tests can be used to predict performance and refine development before they're applied to real building projects. In this way, AI addresses a historical issue with building innovation: the delay in determining whether new materials are effective in actual built environments. 

Putting this into practice, the Prologis development team tested Pozzotive’s new concrete formula, which uses recycled glass to replace up to 50 percent of Ordinary Portland Cement, for the curbs and sidewalks of a New Jersey project. The carbon offsets for this relatively small project were equivalent to emissions from 13 cars in one year, a worthwhile push in the right direction. 

quote for Prologis article

Jeremy Gregory, executive director of the MIT Climate and Sustainability Consortium (MCSC), on their collaboration with leading companies like Prologis to pioneer clean energy and industrial decarbonization solutions. Image courtesy of Prologis.

"The MIT Climate and Sustainability Consortium (MCSC) collaborates with leading companies like Prologis to pioneer clean energy and industrial decarbonization solutions," said Jeremy Gregory, executive director of MCSC. "This partnership underscores the role of collaborative efforts in driving industry-wide adoption of sustainable practices, setting the pace for global net-zero targets."

Focusing on operations and clean energy opportunities

Investing in clean energy systems is the most direct method for cutting emissions and reinforcing operational reliability. We embrace renewable energy sources — such as onsite solar coupled with battery energy storage systems and geothermal heating/cooling setups — and are on our way to generating 1 gigawatt of energy across our portfolio by 2025.

Deploying onsite solar not only reduces emissions and long-term energy expenses but also unlocks financial incentives and tax benefits. 

The benefits of solar and storage solutions lie in their adaptability and modularity. Tailored to a building’s specific energy and operational needs, they offer scalability and flexibility, optimizing performance and efficiency, whether you’re expanding operations, adjusting to evolving energy demands or continuing to electrify to decarbonize.

Investing in solar and storage technology is a strategic, long-term endeavor — it enhances our services with customers, increases property value, and underscores our commitment to sustainability.

Tips for deploying clean energy:

  • Maximize your roof space — our 500-megawatt solar deployment uses just 4 percent of our rooftop area.
  • Keep pace with solar and storage advancements to leverage the newest clean energy innovations.

Sustainable building practices

When designing and building our Eindhoven DC4 warehouse, we leveraged sustainable building materials for construction, designed for efficient operations, and integrated an all-electric heating system. The foundation was poured with responsibly sourced concrete, and we worked with nearby suppliers to reduce carbon emissions associated with the project throughout the process.

Eindhoven DC4 stands apart from any other industrial building because for the year after it was completed, we collected data to prove its efficiency and carbon impact. By 2030, the carbon emissions from the building’s construction will be entirely offset by the excess renewable energy generated from onsite solar. The excess power generated by the site is equivalent to approximately 700 households, making the building a source of renewable energy for the community.

The result: a warehouse with net-zero carbon emissions and the world’s first industrial building to receive Zero Carbon Certification from the International Living Future Institute (ILFI). 

Moving goods sustainably through logistics networks 

As you future-proof your supply chain, the way you move goods around the world matters, and that’s where electric, zero-emission fleets come into play. Electric fleets facilitate cleaner air, quieter streets and healthier communities. 

The impact of fleet electrification extends beyond the transportation sector. The demand for charging infrastructure is rising, prompting the development of smart, energy-efficient charging solutions. This drives investment in renewable energy sources and energy storage technologies to power charging stations, further reducing carbon footprints and enhancing energy resilience.

Incorporating EV charging stations into warehouses, distribution centers and other logistics facilities also enhances the overall sustainability profile of the buildings. As EVs evolve along with the grid, EV charging stations provide distributed power centers for bidirectional power supply to help balance peak loads along with solar and storage.

Fleet electrification represents more than just a technological upgrade: It's a catalyst for transformative change across the supply chain. By embracing electric fleets, logistics providers can future-proof their operations, drive innovation in sustainable buildings and contribute to the transition toward a low-carbon economy. 

Tips for electrifying your fleet:

  • Transition gradually — start electrifying your fleet along strategic routes first.
  • Adopt a holistic approach, focusing on supportive infrastructure and monitoring software alongside the vehicles.
  • Use available government and utility EV incentives.
  • Investigate charging solutions such as depot and DC fast chargers, and consult with a charging infrastructure provider.

Frito-Lay: a prime example

Frito-Lay North America is the $23 billion convenient foods division of PepsiCo, Inc. The company operates 30-plus manufacturing facilities across the U.S. and Canada, runs more than 200 distribution centers and services 315,000 retail customers a week through its direct-store delivery model.

Prologis worked with Frito-Lay at our Queens, New York, warehouse to completely revitalize the site. In less than one year, we built and deployed charging infrastructure to support the company’s fleet of 66 electric Ford E-Transit vans, which are operating in low-mileage urban applications because of their quiet operation and maneuverability.

In the ever-evolving landscape of business operations, future-proofing your logistics supply chain is essential to ensure resilience, sustainability and success in the long run. By embracing sustainable logistics, AI, warehouse innovations and cutting-edge technologies, companies can enhance operational efficiency while building a more resilient, sustainable and future-ready supply chain.

Source: “Built Environment.” Climate Group, 2024.

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