Logistics Real Estate Demands Innovation

ConfInno

At this year’s Transport & Logistics Innovation Week (SITL 2019), BNP Paris Real Estate consultants organized a conference entitled "Logistics Real Estate: Innovation at Every Level." Owner and operator Prologis and transport and logistics specialist Geodis, a Prologis customer, took part in the event. We take a look at the highlights.

″Logistics real estate is now an asset class in its own right. Its essential role is being recognized finally, and we are seeing growing press coverage, particularly through the prism of e-commerce.″ Those were the words of René Jeannenot, Logistics Director France for BNP Paribas Real Estate, setting the scene for the conference. Alongside him on the plateau were Olivier Barge and François Comaïta from Prologis and Philippe de Carné, head of development, marketing and innovation at Geodis. 

Environmental stewardship

″Our facilities need to be well located of course, but size is also important to give us proximity to urban centers or the space we need for robotics for example, ″ explained Philippe de Carné. The environmental aspect was also fundamental. "With transport and logistics being the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, we must do everything we can to reduce and compensate for those emissions." Real estate developers like Prologis must innovate and offer bespoke solutions if they are to meet these demands from customers. "Our facilities are designed to the highest environmental standards. We brought a landscaper and an ecology consultant on board for our Marly-la-Ville development which achieved the highest BiodiverCity rating," said Olivier Barge, head of project management and innovation at Prologis. "We also develop next-generation technologies, like our connected facility tool EEGLE, which allows customers to track and reduce their energy use." Using sensors to collect data, the digital interface allows customers to better understand, anticipate and optimize costs and energy use. Seizing the opportunity to announce another innovative environmental solution, Olivier Barge announced that seasonal thermal energy storage (STES) technology at Park Moissy Chanteloup would allow summer heat to be used for winter warming and vice versa. "Our aim is to pioneer carbon-neutral facilities, like the 100,000 square-meter distribution platform we developed for L’Oréal in Germany,” said Olivier Barge.

When logistics real estate attracts talent

One of the points discussed in the conference was worker well being – another major priority for logisticians today. "The logistics professions are evolving; there is increasing demand for highly specialized, skilled workers," said René Jeannenot, "Recruiting and retaining those profiles, though, is a challenge." Once again, real estate developers have a role to play, providing pleasant and healthy workspaces that give customers a competitive edge when attracting future talent. Prologis was aiming to do just that when it partnered up with the International Well Building Institute (IWBI) for the DC5 development in Tilburg in the Netherlands which won the company a place on the shortlist for a 2019 MIPIM Award.  The MIPIM is an international real estate trade fair that recompenses real estate projects that have adopted the Well Building concept and standard, adapted with Prologis’ support for this asset class. Investing with the Dutch startup hello energy, Prologis equipped the facility with sensors and a software interface to monitor temperatures and energy use in real time. The pioneering product uses the data to address clear, simple messages to users to develop their understanding of energy use and efficiency. It offers more precise control than traditional centralized systems and reduces energy costs.

The building’s façade includes a large number of glass panels, even at the mezzanine level, and a well-designed lighting system that makes the most of natural light. Prologis also worked with innovative design agency Doepelstrijkers to include green spaces within the warehouse to enhance employee wellbeing. Lastly, specialized materials were carefully chosen to optimize acoustic design in the distribution center.

Contractual flexibility

For Philippe de Carné, contractual flexibility is another important area of innovation for logistics real estate. "Supply chains need to be agile and adapting to a constantly changing environment," he told the conference. "Logisticians need more flexibility: short-term contracts, divisible plots to cope with seasonal fluctuations, etc." Fortunately, Prologis is ahead of the game. For more than two years now François Comaïta, marketing director at Prologis France, has been leasing a range of surface areas to customers for leases running from one month to several years.

Logisticians know what they want: warehouses that blend seamlessly into landscapes and cityscapes, new technologies for more efficient energy management, short-term leases and divisible plots… When a logistics real estate leader really listens, you get Prologis.

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