Reimagining the Future of Warehouses Image

Reimagining the Future of Warehouses

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When you look at the costs, it’s pretty staggering to see how much money was actually saved.
Jessica Martinez,
PE, LEED AP BD+C,
Structural Sustainability Specialist
DCI Engineers

It was just as seamless to use Grade 65 as it would be to use Grade 50.
Steven Berggren
Structural Project Engineer
DCI Engineers

Steel lands in that sweet spot where it’s feasible from a construction aspect and is still quite flexible for modifications.
Zachary Hirsch
Project Executive
The Walsh Group

NEXT-LEVEL WAREHOUSE DESIGN

It will be hard for passersby not to notice the massive 1.2 million-square-foot, multi-story warehouse on 11.5 acres. When complete, the building will include two warehouse levels where full-size trucks can enter to load and unload goods, as well as two mezzanines. The roof will feature parking for cars that can also be used as a truck court, a unique feature for this type of building, and a pedestrian bridge will connect to a separate parking garage.

“It’s a challenge to take that truck court up to the roof level,” Heeringa says. “That became as big of a challenge as the warehouse because the loads are high and the spans are long.”

Located just two miles from the city’s center—a dynamic neighborhood that mixes residential, business, entertainment, and retail properties—the building offers unparalleled access to the largest concentration of consumers and companies in the region. The building’s owner, the structural team from DCI Engineers, general contractor The Walsh Group, project architect Ware Malcomb, and structural steel fabricator Lyndon Steel collaborated to make this project a success.

NOT YOUR TYPICAL DISTRIBUTION WAREHOUSE

What makes this project unique is that trucks can load and unload goods on an elevated floor (in this case the second floor), which is designed to maximize usage of the warehouse, Heeringa says. “Normally with distribution warehouses, all the rack loading is on the grade level,” he says. “Anytime you have an elevated warehouse floor, the loads are very high. You need to design for that as well as deflection criteria.”

He says the second floor needs to accommodate a racking system to store shipments, plus the ability to operate forklifts. That can pose design challenges because the second floor needs to handle the “HS-20” (highway safety) loading requirements for 18-wheelers while having enough space for a large turning radius.

Another challenging aspect of the project is that its design was seismically controlled. This required buckling-restrained braces (BRBs) to be used as part of the lateral system, of which the DCI Engineers team believes to be the first usage of BRBs in the city.

Due to the heavy loads imparted by the rooftop parking, elevated warehouse storage, and lateral system, the design and fabrication team needed a unique solution to keep the weight of the framing system down. According to DCI Engineers and Lyndon Steel, Nucor’s Aeos—ASTM A913 high strength structural steel—was the clear choice to reduce tonnage while supporting the required loading conditions.

LOWER COST AND MORE EFFICIENT

Using Aeos grade 65 steel was a “no-brainer” from a cost-savings perspective, Heeringa says. “Anytime you’re using less material by saving 15% to 20% on the weight of the steel, that’s a huge difference,” he says.

“We were dealing with some really heavy weight for our large girders, so it’s definitely a cost savings advantage,” adds Danielle Jacobs, PE, SE, Principal at DCI Engineers’ Everett, Washington, office. “The major problems it solved were addressing clear height and overall structure weight limits while reducing costs and steel weight.”

Aeos also provides substantially reduced preheat requirements, which can result in savings in fabrication, field welded connections, and labor and energy costs compared to ASTM A992. Aeos’ high strength-to-weight ratio means reduced tonnage and easier material handling at the fabricator shop and job site, reducing time, weight, and cost.

Mike Bell, Plant Manager at Lyndon Steel in Winston-Salem, NC, said drilling or cutting grade 65 steel isn’t more difficult compared to A992 steel. “As far as fabrication goes, it’s pretty much exactly the same,” Bell says. “The only thing we would change is how we weld something—using a different wire. It was a very successful project for us.”

ACHIEVING SUSTAINABILITY GOALS

Heeringa says employees at DCI Engineers are committed to reducing all their projects’ carbon footprints. For this project, the decision to utilize Aeos resulted in 165 tons of material savings. “The best way to be sustainable is to save on material, because you save 100% of the global warming potential for that saved material,” Heeringa says. Additionally, due to much of the structural steel, including Aeos, being produced at Nucor-Yamato Steel, the project team was able to utilize that mill’s industry-leading Global Warming Potential values when doing a life cycle assessment. Overall, through the combination of efficient design practices and procurement strategies, they found 1,063 metric tons of CO2 equivalent savings – comparable to taking 237 gasoline powered vehicles off the road for one year1.

Aeos is the only domestically produced A913. It is sustainably made with more than 95% recycled content (scrap metal is the primary feedstock) using Nucor’s circular electric arc furnace (EAF) steelmaking process— the cleanest method commercially available today. That is why Aeos is the lowest-embodied-carbon steel of its kind.

The project is also pursuing a LEED Silver certification. To achieve LEED certification—a globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement—points are based on criteria such as carbon, energy, water, waste, transportation, materials, health, and indoor environmental quality.

1 EPA

WHAT THE FUTURE OF WAREHOUSES LOOKS LIKE

The first warehouse of its kind in the Midwest, this project will serve as an inspiration for other developers who want to use prime, central city space for distribution warehouses and other types of commercial projects that support the current and future waves of hybrid work, ecommerce, high-density urban living, and instant delivery.

Jessica Martinez, PE, LEED AP BD+C, Structural Sustainability Specialist at DCI Engineers’ Seattle location, says the building underscores the potential of steel to maximize the use of limited space while helping meet sustainability goals. “There’s going be increasingly higher demands for low impact designs with all these sustainability commitments that are out in the field right now,” she says. “That, coupled with the necessity for those designs to still be durable and long lasting, really puts this steel product in a good position to meet all of those needs.”

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