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The perishable goods supply chain is evolving due to increasing demand and more competition. Thanks to modernization, productivity levels are higher and there are bigger warehouses. As with any construction project, costs are always a concern for manufacturers. Likewise, they are a point of worry for businesses that are seeking out ways to minimize their investments. In this article, we will go over the factors that affect cold storage warehouse cost.

Cold storage warehouse construction

The materials and methods of cold storage warehouse construction vary depending on the owner’s goals. Some owners are prescriptive, knowing exactly what they want. This pertains to the design, method, and material from the start, down to safety railing colour and the width of the floor drains. Others will provide a criterion that the structure must meet and leave it to the developers to make it a reality.

Nevertheless, various cost factors emerge from the idea that cold storage warehouses are built taller than general warehouses. Specifically, so that they can store more perishable products within a given square footage:

  • The concrete for the floor and foundation needs to be strong enough to handle the relative square footage load. Floor heating systems need greater quantities of concrete, which will boost costs. However, they are preferable due to the fact that they quickly dry up the floor, thus preventing bacterial growth.
  • The structure needs to be somewhat customizable. People are more inclined to use the tilt-up construction. This is because it’s easy to construct panels of the size they need with local ready-mix instead of using custom-fabricated steel from outsourcers. Additionally, the former option involves less labour.
  • Tilt-up concrete acts as a good insulator. Numerous layers of the same material enhance the properties of insulation, but there’s a price. However, spending more upfront is better than provoking additional costs later.

If you want to learn about the construction, as well as the cost, of the similar-sounding “cold rooms,” you can read our other article, Details of Cold Room Construction Cost.

Maintain temperature stability

A cold refrigerated space must stay cold no matter what. This crucial fact is where insulation comes into play. These types of buildings need plenty of it and the installation must be perfect. Cold storage warehouses with poor insulation will bleed cold air. This forces HVAC systems to work harder than usual, thus increasing the chances of them breaking down. Moreover, it puts a huge strain on the electrical grid.

Owners have some options here. Insulation ranges from cheap fibreglass formulas to expensive polyurethane foams. Generally speaking, the R-value of insulation – its resistance to temperature transfer – will improve as the cost increases. With that said, cost and R-value are a small part of the big picture. Certain types of insulation are flammable and some can cause harm to the environment. Owners will typically choose systems that feature more than one insulation type. This way, they will be able to balance the R-value, environmental impact, risk of fire, and of course, cost.


Electricity typically costs around $2,300 each year for air conditioning and fans. 10% of this total cost is specifically for miscellaneous needs and equipment. In the summer season, temperatures are warmer, which ultimately results in greater bills. From August to late spring, the monthly operational costs usually drop due to less energy being consumed.

Operating a cold storage warehouse requires a lot of electricity. While HVAC and lighting often require the most power, there are other systems that draw from the grid. Examples include automatic doors in loading docks, site security monitoring, fire suppression, and response systems.

Evidently, this puts a lot of pressure on the power grid; more than facilities that don’t have temperature control needs. Therefore, owners need to plan for higher monthly electric bills. Additionally, they should expect to pay a premium to the utility to guarantee a steady electricity supply.

Because we live in a world where power outages are common, cold storage warehouses need backup generation capacity. Moreover, there is a lot riding on these auxiliary power systems beyond simply keeping the lights on. Above all else, it’s about temperature maintenance. This is what ensures the well-being of the food or perishable product supplies in storage.


Cold storage warehouse cost – like any warehouse construction cost – has the potential to rise due to several factors. The best way to get these costs under control is proper planning from day one of the project. If you need some assistance with your cold storage project, contact our Calgary construction services.