Warehouses Ceiling Heights by the Numbers

Warehouse ceiling heights have continuously risen over the past few decades. Many of the buildings constructed in the 1980’s featured a clear ceiling height of +/- 20′. For clarity, clear ceiling height is generally regarded as the height below any joists, trusses or lighting. In other words, it’s the maximum functional height that a company could use for racking or manufacturing. The actual ceiling height could be a few feet higher than the clear ceiling height but few people have any interest in the actual ceiling height.

The increase in ceiling heights is largely driven by warehousing and logistics companies looking to maximize the cubic space of a warehouse. This is a relatively new concept, whereas before the size of a warehouse was simply a computation of it’s square footage (length times width), the next generation of warehousing now adds height. Indeed, if a company can add another set of racking it will find new efficiencies with the added space. Combined with land constraints in certain markets, new warehouses are approaching 40′. Vancouver, for example, has many properties featuring 36′ to 40′ clear ceiling heights.

We recently conducted an analysis of new developments in Edmonton and the results indicate an increase in ceiling heights for new developments but none yet approaching the 36′ – 40′ threshold found in other markets. Here are four major industrial developments under way with the corresponding ceiling heights:

Cornerstone Business Park – Hopewell Developments – 28′ clear
Horizon Business Park – Hopewell Developments – 28′ clear
Northport Business Park – Oxford Properties – 28′ clear
Henday Industrial Park – WAM/Walton – 28′ – 32′ clear

There are speciality industrial buildings that have significantly higher ceiling heights, such as the 47′ clear ceiling height of Block 45 in Leduc, but they are certainly exceptions to the norm. In the case of Block 45, the unusually high ceiling height was custom built for the previous occupant.

New technology allows for advanced racking and computer systems but it does come with a cost. Notwithstanding the added cost of materials to increase the height, there may need to be upgrades to both the concrete slab, lighting and the sprinkler systems. Furthermore, there are increased operating costs, such as higher utility costs to heat the extra cubic space.  In a market like Edmonton’s, where there is a tremendous amount of land to expand into, it seems like 28′ – 32′ seems to be the optimal balance of cost and benefit.

Our Team

Chad Griffiths

Chad Griffiths

SIOR, CCIM

Chad is a partner with NAI Commercial Real Estate and focuses on the Greater Edmonton area. Chad entered the industry in 2004 and has completed over 400 commercial transactions with clients ranging from small, local companies to large institutional owners. Chad has been a top 15 producer Canada-wide since 2013.

Ryan Brown

Ryan Brown

BCom, SIOR

Ryan is a partner with NAI Commercial Real Estate in Edmonton. He is currently ranked nationally as one of NAI's top advisors in Canada. Having executed in excess of $100 Million dollars worth of sales transactions and over 2 Million square feet of lease transactions, Ryan has developed a firm understanding of asset evaluation and an aptitude for building design, functionality, and practicality for long term use.

Darcie Bouteiller

Darcie Bouteiller

Darcie is a licensed Commercial Real Estate Agent in the Province of Alberta with a focus on the Edmonton market and its surrounding areas. Darcie accomplishes custom solutions for her clients through her personable nature and results driven attitude. Darcie can help if you are looking to invest in commercial real estate or are looking for representation for a sale or lease transactions.

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2 thoughts on “Warehouses Ceiling Heights by the Numbers

    • To our knowledge there hasn’t been a study of that magnitude (nor would there even be a repository of data that would allow it to be analyzed). We could provide our own anecdotal assessment, but it would be based solely on our knowledge of Edmonton. Alternatively, a study could be conducted looking at 30 year old buildings in the major markets and comparing it to current standards. What do you require the data for?

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