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Why Cubic Feet Is The Better Measurement To Gauge Warehouse Construction These Days

Warehouse, industrial, distribution center
The average height of warehouses and distribution centers has risen nine feet in the past 50 years.

It is accepted these days that e-commerce retailers are driving the demand for new warehouse construction during this ongoing real estate boom, and a new report from CBRE backs the claim.

From 2010 to 2016, more than 422M SF in new warehouse inventory was built in the U.S. and 322.5M SF of that pipeline was centered in the nation's top 10 industrial markets. 

But the way e-commerce companies are using warehouse space has analysts considering how to better measure the impact of all the new inventory.

The average height of warehouses has increased an average nine feet since the 1960s to 33 feet last year, and e-retailers are utilizing that increased space by adding mezzanine levels that allow for more workers in each building to pick items and fulfill orders.

Armed with that information, CBRE believes measuring warehouse construction in cubic feet is a better way to examine the full extent of the new construction, and those numbers are eye-popping. There was 1.7B cubic feet in new warehouse construction from 2010 to 2016. Using the cubic feet measurement, the top four markets in the nation for new warehouse construction during that time frame were California's Inland Empire, Dallas-Fort Worth, Pennsylvania's I-71/I-81 corridor and Chicago.