Tailpipe emissions might be what first comes to mind when the transportation industry’s carbon footprint is discussed. But what’s often overlooked is the industry’s incredibly large — and often not-so-green — U.S. industrial property market, which, including logistics warehousing, is estimated to total 15 billion square feet.
Sam Stockdale, senior vice president of environmental sustainability at Link Logistics, suggests that in order to account for the transportation sector’s carbon footprint as a whole, decarbonization efforts must also consider warehousing strategies as critical stakeholders and provide solutions that allow for the proper sequencing of sustainability initiatives.
Stockdale discussed Link’s decarbonizing strategy for logistics infrastructure with FreightWavesTV’s Danny Gomez on the show Net-Zero Carbon.
Link Logistics, a Blackstone company that operates the largest portfolio of logistics real estate assets located exclusively in the U.S., utilizes its scale and expertise to meet the needs of customers with sustainability at the forefront.
With the goal of helping customers exceed their sustainability goals and lower costs, Link’s environmental, social and governance initiatives adhere to three main themes: intersectionality, ensuring delivery of a true, measurable impact; and being a disruptor.
Whether a customer needs a LED retrofit, a rooftop solar array or building-optimization software, Link’s support network seeks to address each project accordingly. All that’s needed, the company says, is trust in the process.
“Sustainability and decarbonization strategies are like a fingerprint,” Stockdale said. “They have to be unique to an organization’s goals, their operations and the business function. We’re casting a very wide net on how we can provide a cohesive set of solutions that allow for decarbonization all the way down the value chain.”
Stockdale sees an opportunity to roll out sustainable solutions in the last-mile, medium-duty sector, as its future poses many questions: How many of these electric vehicles are going to be on the road in the next 10 years? Where will charging take place?
“Within the infill market, last-mile delivery vehicles with a median range of between 100 and 200 miles is where we’ll need to provide solutions,” he said, adding that creating charging depots for both on- and off-site locations will be integral for improving the use of electric, medium-duty vehicles.
Link believes its technology-agnostic approach to sustainability enables the company to be the best open-source partner to any carrier that enters its distribution centers. However, Stockdale stressed that Link won’t subject customers to anything it hasn’t tried itself.
With plans to be carbon neutral by 2025, Link’s ambitious plans include making 100% of operations powered by renewable energy sources by 2024 and ensuring all new developments be certified by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. Earlier this week, Link released its 2021 ESG report, which outlines these and other commitments, as well as the company’s progress over the past year.
“Our goal is to have 100% LED or high-efficiency lighting [in our facilities] by 2025,” said Stockdale, noting that this year Link installed LED lighting across more than 20 million more square feet of space. “We also have a goal of having 300 megawatts of solar energy installed by 2025, of which we have 62 megawatts of solar installed today.”
Link is also pursuing a partnership-first approach in meeting its environmental, social and governance objectives. Examples of nonprofit partnerships that yield benefits for the communities in which they operate include The Nature Conservancy, the Environmental Defense Fund and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program, from which Link was named its 2022 Partner of the Year.
In fact, Link is the first company in the industrial real estate sector to receive this distinction.
Founded in 2019, Link has made tremendous strides in formulating data-driven strategies to achieve long-term decarbonization for logistics infrastructure. But Stockdale said the company’s greatest investments have been in its people.
Link has added hundreds of jobs under its roof, internalizing its entire property management team while constructing a decentralized executive network in the process. Because real estate is a local business, Stockdale said leaning on local expertise is the company’s best strategy.
“We’re making investments in people because that’s who’s going to help us achieve our goals of progressing decarbonization as well as the goals of our customers,” Stockdale added. “Our people will ultimately be the partners who our customers can trust through the process.”
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