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Municipalities use Fabric Structures for Warehouse and Storage Space Expansion

(guest blog post by William Hansen)

As municipal and public works departments adapt to changing economic factors and match the growth of supporting industries such as transportation and logistics management, the need for reliable warehousing and storage solutions will only increase. According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, the transportation and warehouse industry added over 17,000 jobs in June of 2015 alone. In the face of this rapid growth, both private organizations and municipalities need to ensure their warehouse and storage capacities are adequate enough to fulfill growing general storage requirements and accommodate increasing population and business growth in urban areas.

While relocation to a larger space is one option, temporary expansion into another facility or adding space to your existing facility are also viable alternatives. A growing trend among new and expanding municipalities is the use of tension fabric structures to house their critical assets and keep their operations running smoothly.

Four Key Factors in Warehouse and Storage Selection

  1. Flexibility for Expansion

Adding to a brick-and-mortar building isn’t typically an easy process. Building permits, material costs, and contractor’s fees can be prohibitive. With tension fabric structures, adding additional space to your facility is comparatively easy. A concrete foundation can be used but is not necessary for a fabric structure, adding to the speed and ease of installation. Fabric structure manufacturers will typically engineer a solution based on your existing facility, local building codes, and expected wind and snow loads – making for a seamless expansion that looks great and functions to its fullest potential. However, different manufacturers have different building standards that may lead to issues down the road, including structural integrity issues and nullifying building code compliance.

  1. Make the Most of Your Available Space

Brick-and-mortar facilities require support beams and walls that can limit your available floor space and restrict your available storage area. Support beams can also pose a hazard to heavy machinery and forklifts that need to maneuver within the space. With the clear-span design of a fabric structure, no support beams are present in the facility's interior, allowing absolute freedom of movement and warehouse configuration.

  1. Versatility

When your operations expand or your focus shifts, you need a building that can adapt to your changing requirements. With the ability to relocate and/or expand your fabric warehouse facility, you can save considerable time and money should you ever need to move your operations or shift gears rapidly. Temporary or seasonal warehouses can be repurposed with minimal effort, making them a great option for transportation departments, agricultural organizations, and land management vehicle storage throughout the year.

  1. Long-Term Value

A key aspect of municipal building development is the value any construction may add to the land itself and property values around it. With green and sustainable constructions leading to increases in property values all around the country, it’s important to consider future uses of the construction site and to future-proof your investment. Whereas reclaimed and recycled buildings yield high price tags and uncertain repair and maintenance costs, fabric-type building manufacturers have made important advances in improving energy efficiency through improved material production and design revisions.

Depending on your geographic location, a roof with even a small degree of translucence can provide exceptional energy savings over the lifespan of the building. While this can impact the level of insulation available, a fabric roof with just 12% translucency can provide well above the recommended 75 to 100-footcandle minimums for maintenance of equipment and labor. While artificial lighting systems are required for overcast or darkened weather conditions, the energy usage offset by translucent roofing materials will go a long way to achieving LEED certification and financial savings.

About the Author William Hansen of Alaska Structures: William Hansen works with Alaska Structures, a manufacturer of fabric tension structures based in Anchorage, Alaska. Fabric buildings by Alaska Structures are designed and manufactured to meet local and national building codes as well as regional wind and snow load demands. Visit for more information.

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