Once construction is completed by the end of the decade, the $25-billion facility will become the largest planned logistics and business park in North America.
Stantec, a sustainable design and engineering firm, is poised to oversee the development of the net-zero project covering 2,600 acres within the confines of the City of Moreno.
The WLC will be built in the heart of Southern California's Golden Triangle region that stretches across the counties of Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego, approximately 75 miles east of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach along California State Route 60.
"Highland Fairview’s vision for a net-zero and sustainable economic centre has not yet been tackled on this scale in the U.S.," Brianna Daniels, principal-in-charge for Stantec, told SustainableBiz in an email interview.
"We are proud to be a part of this inspirational project that will have such positive community outcomes in Moreno Valley and around North America . . . Stantec is committed to enterprise-wide carbon neutrality on its path to net-zero."
A carbon neutral freight hub and ecopark
Conceived as a project that exceeds existing norms, Stantec and Highland Fairview have combined forces to build what they call a world-class, carbon-neutral facility.
The WLC will create a vast complex of buildings totalling over 40 million square feet. This sheer amount of rooftop space will also allow Stantec to install vast banks of solar panels featuring state-of-the-art battery storage and microgrids.
This facility will be electrically self-sustaining and avoid reliance on California's power grid that is often operating at full capacity. (Local regulations require the facility to be connected to the grid, however.)
"The scale of this iconic project and its focus on sustainability creates a unique opportunity to advance the development of sustainable construction and operational practices in industrial buildings," Dave Calder, global industrial sector leader for Stantec, said.
One of the principal factors leading to the choice of the Moreno site is its central location within the Golden Triangle. More than 40 per cent of goods coming to the U.S. pass through the area.
The WLC will be more than a traditional freight hub, however. It will double as an eco-friendly public space with walkable streets, cafés, restaurants, arts and culture centres, and even breweries.
"We see the WLC as the new standard for how logistics hubs and facilities are planned and designed, especially from a community and sustainability perspective," Daniels explained. "Simply put, this vision for a net-zero and sustainable logistics center has not yet been tackled on this scale in the U.S.
"This is the also the largest project in the country to utilize T4 construction heavy equipment (which generates) the least amount of emissions possible. This is a costly investment, which makes it uncommon, but is a testament to our commitment to making the WLC as sustainable as possible."
Delivering forward-looking, highly sustainable infrastructure
Highland Fairview has assigned Stantec the mission of building the kind of sustainable infrastructure that looks ahead to an integrated zero-carbon future.
In partnership with Highland Fairview, the scope of the project will draw on Stantec's global expertise in civil engineering, industrial buildings architecture, geomatics, water and wastewater design, landscape architecture, urban planning, smart mobility and autonomous vehicle consulting, funding consulting, and energy and innovation design.
Iddo Benzeevi, president and CEO of Highland Fairview, said, "The World Logistics Center is a major commitment in the next generation of sustainability and logistics operations. Our engineering partnership with Stantec will be important in our success, bringing all our combined engineering and design pieces together in a fully integrated operation to execute our vision and bring it to reality.
The centre is projected to offer overnight delivery to the 11 western states and maximum three-day delivery from port to facility and onward to any destination on the U.S. mainland.
By maximizing supply chain efficiency via supervisory control and data acquisition systems to coordinate logistics providers, the WLC will improve shipping efficiency by ensuring all trucks leave the facility fully loaded.
WLC will be EV-ready
Parallel to the anticipated rollout of zero-emissions short- and long-haul trucking fleets by the end of this decade, the WLC is conceived as a fully electric-vehicle-ready facility. Over a thousand charging stations will be incorporated into the design.
In addition, Stantec intends to introduce autonomous vehicle technology via its Stantec GenerationAV consulting unit. To this end, Highland Fairview is negotiating to purchase zero-emission truck fleets, as well as the use of autonomous vehicle shuttles for on-site personnel transportation.
Water conservation integral to WLC
One of the many innovative aspects of the Stantec plan for the WLC is that the facility has been designed to achieve a 70 per cent reduction in water consumption as compared to the existing overall plan for the City of Moreno Valley.
The anticipated 653 million gallons in annual water savings is equivalent to the water used by 27,000 households over a year. In addition, excess storm and drainage water will be treated prior to discharge in a way that respects existing drainage patterns and protects the downstream environment.
Construction of the WLC is to begin later this year and unfold in successive stages of six million square feet per year until the expected completion date in 2030.
"This project aligns with our own sustainability commitments, and the way we see the future of the built environment," Daniels said.
"Stantec’s focus on sustainability goes beyond our own organization. We are committed to supporting our clients reach their sustainability goals and ensuring that sustainability is a priority for them and the communities and industries they serve."
Editor's note: Highland Fairview is not a Canadian company as previously stated.