Industrial doors may be the poor relation when considering warehouse running costs but those operators who ignore their potential to cut energy costs and bestow other benefits risk losing business to competitors. In the UK, it is estimated that the warehouse sector pumps out 10.2 million tonnes of CO2, or 3% of the total UK CO2 emissions, every year. Research shows that the sector could potentially achieve a 16% reduction in emissions, mostly from lighting and heating. Given the remorseless rise in energy costs and need for new warehouses to be carbon neutral by 2019, now, more than ever, is the time to review door selection and operating costs.

There remains a lack of defined responsibility for energy use and delivery of a reduction programme coupled with lack of technical knowledge, both of which can be an effective barrier to action. Operators therefore, owing to the fear of the unknown, tend to choose what they know, which does not lead to the adoption of new, more efficient technologies.

Fortunately, the leading door suppliers like Hormann, Sara, Union Industries and BID Klimate, have the expertise to perform energy audits for prospective clients, but more than that they can give buyers an idea of life cycle costs, which usual specifiers like architects and builders cannot do. This is important, because as with forklifts the initial purchase price is only a small fraction of the lifetime running costs.

There is also help on hand from the Carbon Trust, who will not only assess companies’ energy savings potential but also offer zero per cent loans for energy saving equipment. However, it seems that energy saving doors, like the rapid roller kind, are not on the energy technology list, which seems unfair given that doors can do more than heaters and lighting to cut down on energy. Most PVC rapid roll doors are also good natural light transmitters, thus cutting down on artificial light needs. If appropriate doors were included on the energy technology list then businesses could claim the enhanced capital allowances and so write off 100% of the investment cost in the first year.

Most door operating costs are higher than they need be because the biggest cause of door damage is collision between forklifts and doors, followed by external wind loadings and neglect. It makes sense, therefore, to have a preventative maintenance scheme in place rather than a reactive one, and this is where it is important to select the best of breed door manufacturers because not all ‘service contracts’ are up to the mark.

Doors are not just about saving energy. They are effective barriers to vermin ingress, particularly important for food and drug producers, security barriers and can improve working conditions by cutting down freezing draughts and uncomfortable working temperatures. The rapid roll type of door can also be good security doors, where they are the sectional insulated kind like Hormann’s HSS door, which can dispense with the need for two different door types. This type of door not only saves considerable energy costs in cold stores, which can soak up between 20% and 30% of total running costs, they can reduce build up of ice at door entrance floors and so cut down on accidents.

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