The building automation of Lidl’s new distribution centre is controlled in accordance with strict life cycle and energy goals


The building automation of Lidl’s new distribution centre is controlled in accordance with strict life cycle and energy goals

30 December 2018
Lidl’s third distribution centre was completed in Järvenpää in late autumn. After the turn of the year, about 100 truckloads of products will travel through the centre and onwards across southern Finland every day. Sweco’s experts have been in charge of the site’s versatile electronic, HVAC, sprinkler and building automation design, as well as the structural engineering.

Energy optimisation and circular economy are present everywhere within this over 6-hectare distribution centre. Carbon dioxide emissions will be cut down by nearly 40 per cent and energy consumption by 50 per cent. The packaging materials will be sorted in their own recycling centre. Comfort has also been taken into account inside these huge premises; Four beautiful murals decorate the 18-metre walls of the warehouse and two more adorn the office premises.

It is no wonder that the basis for building services design of the distribution centre was also exceptional. The project was started with energy and life cycle design, and the planning process of building services systems focused on achieving these life cycle goals.

“This exceptional design process required us to work closely together, but the process worked well for this demanding site. We have achieved the site’s ambitious life cycle and energy goals, and the coordination and control of all building services systems with building automation have gone according to plan,” Lidl’s Project Manager Kalle Hintikka says happily.

Building automation has an exceptionally large role

Energy savings can only be reached through smart building services and their automated control, and that is why building automation plays an exceptionally vital role in the distribution centre. The control solution is unique in Finland with regard to its scope.

“We have looked for exceptional solutions which enable the HVAC and electrical systems to be controlled as a part of two-way energy trading and elasticity of demand, for example. Our equipment choices also strive towards energy efficiency,” says Mikko Vanhakarhu, Sweco’s building automation specialist.

Even though building automation takes up just a small share of the investment’s total costs, its perfect functionality has a significant effect on the property’s life cycle costs. Lidl invested in the validity, commissioning and control of automation at all stages of the project.

“We were comprehensively involved from project planning to commissioning, making sure that all the technical systems worked well together. We also coordinated the operational and integrations tests,” Vanhakarhu says.

Lighting control helps conserve up to 45% of energy

Sweco’s electrical designers were responsible for the electricity, telecommunication and security design of the distribution centre, as well as for the electric connections of the site’s 1,600 solar panels. The strict energy goals were achieved thanks to LED lights and modern lighting control.

“Light sensors will automatically dim the lights to a suitable level in daylight, and motion sensors control the outdoor, office and warehouse lighting so that they will dim down the lights during the night and only switch them on, when someone remains in the premises,” says Jyrki Kokko, Sweco’s Project Director of electrical design.

Compared to a traditional lighting system, it is estimated that this system will achieve energy savings of about 45 per cent.

“The electricity consumption in the distribution centre was designed to be flexible. With batteries and reserve power machinery, the site can be a part of the elasticity of demand, feeding its excess electricity back to the network. However, our purpose is to mainly cut down the amount of main electricity used,” Kokko says.

HVAC systems control the conditions of refrigerated premises

The distribution centre is a multifaceted site that includes dry storages, offices, refrigeration and freezer rooms, a loading space intended to fit 150 forklifts, fruit and vegetable storages with two different temperatures and a separately protected storage for chemicals. The refrigeration and freezer rooms take up more than a third of the facility’s 20,000 square meters.

“The HVAC design was exceptionally complex, and the sheer size of the distribution centre was one of the biggest challenges. “The massive size of the space, about as large as ten football fields put together, cannot be discerned by sitting by the design table!” says Mikko Hiltunen, Sweco’s HVAC Project Manager. Lidl’s general design guidelines and the concept made in Germany were applied to the Finnish conditions in HVAC planning. “Additionally, we took into account the requirements of the BREEAM classification applied for the site concerning heat recovery, the flow rates of water fittings, and amounts of air, for example.

In addition to the hydronic floor heating, two-way district heating can also be used in the distribution centre.

“The cooling process of the refrigerator and freezer rooms generates plenty of condensed heat, which can be either utilised in the distribution centre’s heating or distributed to Fortum’s district heating network to be used by the citizens of Järvenpää. This excess energy can be used to warm the household water of 500 single-family homes, for example,” Hiltunen says.

The same design team will continue to work on the distribution centre’s expansion

Sweco and Lidl share a long history of collaboration, which will continue in the future.

“Sweco has experience of our similar distribution centre sites and the resources of a large organisation that are needed to complete the designs in a tight schedule. Sweco can also meet our information modelling requirements,” Hintikka says. “Our cooperation will therefore continue seamlessly also during the expansion project of the distribution centre, which will be launched at the turn of the year.”