Mr Price Distribution Centre; Mr Price Distribution Centre;

Mr Price Distribution Centre, Hammarsdale, KwaZulu-Natal

Can a distribution centre become an example of climate resilience?

Processing over two million items per day, the Mr Price distribution centre is the first highly mechanised warehouse of this scale in South Africa. It's the main logistics site of Mr Price – an established retailer focused on affordable clothing and household items. With multiple centres across the country, its aim was to consolidate all sites into a single facility. Arup provided multidisciplinary services including civil, structural, mechanical, and electrical engineering design to develop its new 62,000m² centre located at Hammarsdale (Kwa-Zulu Natal).

Owing to its strategic position in an economic hub, Mr Price’s distribution centre encouraged the development of the industrial park that now surrounds it, sparking commerce in the local area. This distribution centre is also designed with sustainable development at front of mind, helping to tackle climate change and contribute to the race to net zero. Finalised back in 2016, it is a real example of how buildings of all types can benefit both the environment and the local community, while championing the latest technologies.

Project Summary

1.2million kWh annual energy savings

2million +items processed per day

2.8million litrereserve water harvesting facility

Contributing to the local economic growth

By shifting towards a single centre of operations, Mr Price could streamline its daily activities to improve its efficiency, delivery times, and customer experience. However, this was only possible if the new facility was positioned in the right location. A site in between the major port in Durban and Johannesburg – one of South Africa’s major economic hubs – provided the ideal location. As distribution is mainly done by road, this location offered a connection point between the two places, improving connectivity while reducing the transport strain on the road network within and the periphery of the city.

The strategic positioning of Mr Price’s distribution centre encouraged the development of infrastructure in the vicinity, boosting the local economy. This also attracted other businesses to place their centres of operations in the surrounding areas, leading to the birth of a new commercial hub. As Durban’s business fabric grew so did the quality of life for the local community as further employment opportunities were created and the availability of affordable goods and services increased.

Overcoming climate resilience challenges 

A major challenge was to design a distribution centre with climate resilience at its core. The Durban area has always contended with flooding events, and these are only set to increase with climate change – with climate models projecting that rainfall will rise by 4-8% in South Africa over the coming years. In response to this, our team integrated a moat around the facility as part of the stormwater and rainwater harvesting system to protect against extreme water-related events. This was complemented by two metre-depth channels that were excavated across the site to channel and absorb rain. Over the past few years, Mr Price’s distribution centre has withstood multiple flood events without any damage to its building, infrastructure, or stored goods. 

Mr Price Distribution Centre Mr Price Distribution Centre

Leading the green warehouse landscape

While logistics centres may not be the first type of building which comes to mind when talking about green buildings, they still play a significant role in making the global economy more sustainable. Our design proposal aimed to bring sustainability to every part of the structure by relying on an advanced building monitoring system, which turned the facility into a smart-enabled warehouse. Controlling the lighting as well as monitoring the energy consumption across the site, it allowed a reduction in energy consumption, and its associated greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, it extended the product life of various accessories such as lights, improving their replacement cycle and lowering the use of raw materials.

Our team designed and installed an automated lighting system for the entire facility comprised of LED luminaires with daylight harvesting. The motion sensor lights adjust the based on the natural light intensity in the space, minimising the use of artificial lighting and saving a total of 1.2 million kWh per year.

After assessing its economic feasibility, a solar panel roof system was installed which will reach a capacity of over 1,600kW at full build-out, harvesting over 2 million kWh per year. This will lead to a significant reduction of electricity coming from fossil fuels and their associated greenhouse gas emissions.

Ventilation was also key to achieve a planet-centred design while improving human wellbeing. We prioritised a naturally ventilated system which both reduced energy usage and enhanced working conditions, supporting employees’ wellbeing.  

In addition to energy use, water consumption was also minimised. We installed a rainwater harvesting treatment plant and 2,455m³ of storage which allowed the implementation of sustainable water management practices by reusing natural sources. The installation was big enough to supply most of the potable water requirements, reducing indirect carbon emissions.

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