Press Release brought to you by NAI Earle Furman

Understanding Warehouse Efficiency | 36’ Clear Heights & What it Means to Warehouse Operators


Understanding market drivers and demands of tenants are essential to developing new inventory for the industrial market. While this may seem somewhat obvious, there are a number of key variables to consider in delivering the next generation, best in class distribution facility and/or manufacturing building. So, which factors are the most important?  If you are developing one or two buildings within a timeframe of 12-24 months, then you can meet the market’s current/short-term demand. However, what does it mean to have a longer-term development runway and exceed the market? What does it mean to deliver a product that is above and beyond industry recognized standards and meets the demands of tomorrow’s modern distribution center or manufacturing facility?   

    Supply chains are becoming more sophisticated and suppliers, customers, and distribution hubs are continuing to innovate to be more competitive. These market demands force tenants to carefully evaluate their facilities and assess whether they can operate functionally and efficiently, as both factors yield cost savings and create competitive advantages. In the ever-changing business landscape, as businesses and tenants continue to innovate, so too must the buildings in which they operate to maintain competitiveness. From a developer/landlord/user perspective, where do you look to design a building that operates with the most efficiency, while maximizing its competitive edge within the market? 

Clear Height, Column Spacing, Concrete Floor Slab, and ESFR Fire Protection System

Clear Height:

One of the most basic building criteria of warehousing and distribution facilities is the clear height to bottom of ceiling structure.
How high is high enough?  

    A study in 2016 identified approximately 73% of existing warehouse and distribution facilities, as well as those under construction, between 300,000 to 600,000 square feet were 32’ clear. When you assess how much inventory will fit in a building, it is as much about how high you can rack as it is about floor space.  Evaluating the most common racking and pallet heights (56” pallet height / 64” rack module, 64” pallet / 72” rack module and 72” pallet height / 80” rack module), it’s pretty easy to see the cost savings. When using the most common pallet configuration of a 64” pallet height, then a 32’ clear height building only accommodates 5 pallets. However, a 36’ clear height building allows for another pallet position, which improves storage capacity by 20% for the operator/tenant.  

    Similarly, a 56” pallet configuration allows for an increase to six positions (in some instances seven positions depending on roof slope), which improves storage capacity by 12%.  A 72” pallet height allows for stacking of five pallets high instead of four pallets, which improves storage capacity by 25%.  

     It’s clear to see how a 4’ increase in a building’s clear height creates additional vertical cube capacity ranging from 12% to 25%. This is a significant cost savings compared to paying rent and operating expenses for 12% to 25% more square feet. 

Column Spacing:

Our facility is planned to support horizontal storage efficiency through the use of a 56’ column grid. This grid dimension supports both Narrow and Very Narrow aisle layouts. The facility also utilizes load-bearing exterior walls, which eliminates perimeter columns from obstructing usable interior space.

Concrete Floor Slab - Ductilcrete:

Improvements in concrete technology have led us to utilize a proprietary concrete floor design and installation known as Ductilcrete. The basic tenant advantages are as follows:


  • Increased load-bearing capacity – a 6” Ductilcrete slab has the equivalent strength of a traditional 7” or 8” reinforced concrete slab
  • Control joints only along column lines which reduces floor joint maintenance costs by approximately 70%
  • Slab shrinkage is significantly reduced to where the Floor Flatness (FF) and Floor Levelness (FL) numbers endure the life of the slab
  • We have achieved “super-flat” floor flatness levels on almost all of our Ductilcrete floors to date with normal concrete placement techniques
  • The higher the FF/FL numbers translates to improved safety and forklift speed for the tenant who racks product to the clear height of the building
  • Concrete slab construction durations are actually shortened
  • Extended warranty: three years without caulked joints and five years with caulked joints

ESFR Fire Protection System:
Fire suppression is an important factor in speculative buildings when considering the following:

  • Flexibility to meet tenant needs of warehousing or manufacturing occupancies
  • Flexibility to cover the most tenant commodity classifications
  • Meeting or exceeding FM Global requirements for the tenant commodity classifications
  • Meeting or exceeding NFPA 13 requirements

   Taking these factors into account, we have standardized on an ESFR Fire Protection System with 52 PSI K-22 heads, supported by an electric or diesel fire pump. Unless a tenant has High Hazard Commodities, the previous fire protection system typically meets all requirements.


“The facility includes some of the latest proven construction techniques and materials to not only support the construction of an economical speculative building but more importantly to maximize capacity and efficiency for Tenant products and services to maximize their profitability.”  - Keith Clarke, AIA – MCA Architecture, Inc.       

     In closing, understanding the sophistication behind overall space planning for today’s warehouse users is essential. The interconnectedness between building components, operational efficiency, and increased profit is one of the leading factors for companies when deciding on a place to operate. These are the reasons Smith Farms is striving to lead the market by providing buildings with these operational features. Construction is well underway on the Class A master-planned park with an expected delivery of the first buildings in the second quarter of 2019.  

Red Rock Developments and NAI Earle Furman are more than happy to answer any questions regarding Smith Farms, and how this may be an option and/or a solution for a company to take advantage of today’s modern building standards.


Grice Hunt, SIOR

Clay Williams

Ford Borders, SIOR



NAI Earle Furman

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