The Best Insulative Building Material for Cold Storage Warehouse Construction

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Cold storage construction in warehouses plays an incredibly important role in the economy by providing the storage conditions necessary to maintain some of our most critical commodities.

Nearly all warehouses benefit from insulative qualities to protect goods, but it is an absolute necessity when warehousing items such as food and pharmaceuticals.

In this article, we’ll take a look at cold storage warehouse construction and explore the best ways and materials to achieve outstanding insulative conditions to maximize thermal efficiencies and optimize the economics around these commodities.

Cold Storage Construction Uses in Warehouses

Access to more and better goods is a product of the rising excellence of logistics.

Fortunately, we live in a time where we can expect to head to a local grocery store—even in semi-rural areas—and gain access to a wide variety of fresh meat, dairy, and vegetables. If we fall prey to disease or illness, we take for granted that a drive to a local doctor and pharmacy is all that’s necessary to acquire next-generation medicines.

This state of access is only possible because of logistics and, for many of our most important goods, cold storage warehouses within the supply chain.

Here are the most common commodities and items warehoused by cold storage warehouses that keep them fresh and available to transport all over the country in rapid fashion:


Food provisioning is a complex sector of the economy as very few foods can be grown locally at all times of the year.

If you’ve ever had a garden or raised livestock for dairy or meat, you’ll know that you are very limited in both what you can grow, when you can grow, and how much can be harvested. Industrial operations can overcome many of these limitations, but vegetables, fruit, and meat, once harvested, can only exist for a few days or even hours before they go bad.

Cold storage warehousing solves this problem by providing a large space where industrially produced food stuffs can be housed at appropriate temperatures to keep them viable until they are transported to retail facilities for purchase.

Pharmaceuticals and Biologics

Even more sensitive, pharmaceuticals, their precursors, and their biologics need to be maintained at low temperatures to stay active and effective.

Temperature-sensitive medications and vaccines require cold storage construction in warehouses so that they can stay viable and ready for distribution when needed by hospitals and pharmacies.

Biological and Biomedical Storage

To achieve pharmaceutical products at all, a severe amount of research is required.

This also requires cold storage to keep samples viable so that more and more research can be completed and submitted to pharmaceutical production facilities for the creation of products for the market.


The modern economy and way of life is entirely dependent on chemistry that combines raw chemicals together or processes raw materials into purer forms for production needs. Many chemicals, especially when processed and refined, require specific temperatures to stay viable, and cold storage warehouses are critical to their availability.

Floral Storage

This may seem not nearly as important as food, pharmaceuticals, and chemicals, but the floral industry is no slouch! Cold storage constructions of floral warehouses allow growers and florists to maintain a robust selection of goods that can be packaged and shipped in minutes once online orders are placed.

Understanding the Needs of Cold Storage Construction in Warehouse

The defining characteristics of a cold storage warehouse, as opposed to a normal warehouse, is severe insulation and refrigeration and HVAC systems, in that order. You can’t have a functioning cold storage warehouse without both, but the importance of high quality insulation is paramount. You might be able to achieve your goals with a mid-tier refrigeration system with proper insulation, and more importantly, your energy expenses will be significantly lower.

Constructing a new cold storage warehouse isn’t just about the facility, but how it runs over time. For example, you could certainly blast a storage space with refrigeration to maintain your desired temperatures to keep the commodities viable, but if the cold air is escaping because of poor insulation and air tightness, your energy bills will be astronomical. It is critical, then, when building a cold storage warehouse to focus on making sure the insulation is created with the best possible material and the wall construction is airtight. The wall assembly must also address thermal transfer, minimizing or eliminating interior condensation and moisture that could be detrimental to the stored products.

The Best Insulative Building Material for Cold Storage Warehouse Construction

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Material selection for the insulation is where cold storage warehouse construction will differ from a normal warehouse, and will ultimately decide not only the effectiveness of your cold storage capabilities, but the economics of energy consumption over the life of the facility. Once you select high-performance insulation, you could then choose to go the standard warehouse route of prefabricated metal panels and then apply the insulation once complete. It requires two steps, and the second step essentially means you’re rebuilding the structure with insulation - a high labor cost.

To avoid this, let’s focus on a better solution: Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF). ICFs are hollow blocks made of expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam interlocked together and then filled with concrete to form wall assemblies.

By combining the insulative power of EPS insulation with concrete, ICFs create wall assemblies that not only offer excellence in insulation, but durability as well.

With their most basic deployment, ICF offers a minimum R-value of R22 that provides a cold warehouse with exceptional thermal efficiency at the time of construction. Plus, additional EPS form insert panels may be added to a regular ICF block to increase the thermal performance up to an R-value of R38+. The key element of an ICF wall assembly is the thermal mass of the concrete, which modulates the temperature transfer through the wall, maintaining a near constant temperature.

A cold warehouse needs effective refrigeration, especially when it comes to housing produce. ICFs have successfully been used for produce storage, such as potatoes, and other frozen foods, such as fish.

But a cold warehouse also needs to be energy efficient to prosper. By utilizing ICFs, you can expect exceptional thermal efficiency alongside the durability of concrete to optimize energy costs for the long haul.

The strength of ICFs is tested and approved for use even in areas that exhibit severe weather, such as hurricanes and tornadoes. Considering the demographic and economic rise in states like Florida, building with ICFs will ensure your cold storage warehouse against even the most severe weather scenarios.

Achieve High-Level Insulated Walls for Cold Storage Warehouses with Fox Blocks ICF

When constructing a cold storage warehouse, selecting the appropriate insulative materials is crucial.

Providing significant durability and resiliency, Fox Blocks’s ICFs are the perfect solution to achieve excellence in storage capacity and thermal efficiency with rapid construction for cold storage facilities.

For more information about utilizing ICF for your cold storage warehouse build, contact our experts today!