Storelocal Team Aug 10, 2022 12:45:00 PM 15 min read

How to Create a Green Self Storage Facility + Top Benefits

Going green is good for the planet – and for business. Today, more and more companies are responding to economic policy and consumer demand by becoming eco-friendly. Despite some upfront costs, green initiatives largely pay off in the form of financial savings and consumer loyalty. Embracing sustainability is no different when it comes to self storage. Increasingly, more owners are investing in an environmentally-friendly storage facility or upgrading their existing facility to include more sustainable storage solutions. 

Building a Green Self Storage Facility

While self storage is already somewhat sustainable, consuming less energy than office buildings, restaurants, and retail, more developers are now working with self storage architects certified by LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) to become even greener. 

The LEED rating system is a certification standard overseen by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). The USGBC offers rating systems for all building types and phases, including new construction, renovations, operational upgrades, and more. There are also four rating levels available: Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum.

LEED Certified buildings significantly improve efficiency, consuming on average 25% less energy and 11% less water than non-green buildings. However, to achieve LEED certification, buildings must meet a lengthy list of criteria. To become a LEED-certified self storage facility, buildings must:

  • Be in compliance with environmental regulations and standards
  • Meet the threshold of floor area requirements
  • Meet a minimum of building occupancy in terms of the number of users
  • Maintain a reasonable site boundary
  • Be a permanent building 
  • Share energy and water usage data
  • Have a minimum building-to-site area ratio

A LEED-certified architect will be able to help developers with self storage building design, choosing sustainable sites, suggesting the right materials and resources, designing for efficient water and energy use, and more.

Becoming a Green Self Storage Facility

Not all owners have the luxury of constructing a green building from the ground-up, but still want to reap the rewards of becoming more environmentally friendly. There are some steps you can take following construction to become a greener self storage facility.

Energy Efficient Lighting

An easy way to get greener is to switch to energy-efficient lighting. Lighting makes up 17% of all electricity consumed in commercial buildings, so If your building relies on incandescent, halogen, HID, or T12 fluorescent, you’re throwing money away. Switching to LEDs provides the same brightness as traditional bulbs but uses 90% less energy. They also last 15 times longer, so they require less maintenance/replacement. 

Energy Efficient HVAC 

An HVAC system that is too small can’t keep up with demand, while a system that is too large is an inefficient use of energy. So, consider right-sizing your HVAC system, having one customized for your facility’s needs. Of course, there will be an upfront cost, but your building will be greener and you’ll save some green in the long term. This is especially important for facilities with climate-controlled units.

Solar Paneling

Installing solar panels has become very popular for commercial buildings. There are many benefits:

  • Lower energy bills. You pay nothing for the electricity your panels generate from the sun’s rays.
  • Rebates. Manufacturers and utility providers often offer rebates which allow you to quickly recoup some of your investment.
  • Federal and state tax breaks. If available, this makes installation more attractive.
  • Less reliance on the power grid. When the competition loses power, you can still be operational. This is a great selling point for your promotional material.
  • Visibility. Unlike some green initiatives, solar panels can be seen by the naked eye so customers know you care about the environment, which helps you stand apart from the competition.

Another reason to go solar? The National Renewable Energy Laboratory reports that for every $1 saved on your utility bill from rooftop solar, your property value goes up $20.

Sustainable Materials

When expanding your units, consider foam-panel walls. While these may cost a bit more upfront, they conserve energy and will save you money in the long run (they also help deter pests). Adding eco-friendly fiberglass siding to buildings is also gaining in popularity. It can be painted or stained and comes in a variety of textures and widths. While installation takes some time, it’s tough, durable, and has a long life. 

Installing thermal-plastic roofing is another way to reduce energy consumption. It reduces heat, requires less long-term maintenance than asphalt over a 20-year cycle, and is fully recyclable at the end of its life. Can’t afford it? Paint your roof white! This will keep your building cooler even when the sun is beating down on it. 

Water Efficiency

Unlike other commercial buildings, many self storage facilities do not use a lot of water. However, installing efficient plumbing fixtures is easy to do and can help conserve water. Self storage facilities that allow vehicle and boat storage – and thus have washing stations – can also install a water reclamation system for greater water efficiency.

Landscaping

Landscaping choices also impact your facility’s water usage. Hot and dry climates, in particular, should use less “thirsty” plants so less watering is required. Trading out sprinklers for drip irrigation is another way to reduce water consumption. Xeriscaping, which involves creating landscapes using native plants and porous hardscapes that don’t require regular watering, is also growing in popularity.

Virtual Operations

Every time a vehicle stays off the road, our carbon footprint is reduced. While it may seem minor, by posting photos and prices on your website, and allowing tenants to rent units online, you can cut down on unnecessary pre-rental visits. 

If management is remote – which again, cuts back on vehicle emissions – the move-in process can also be automated using smart technology (such as Nokē Smart Entry) to provide seamless, secure access. Management doesn’t even need to come onsite to deal with lost keys, physical locks, and overlocks. 

Recycling

Self storage tenants frequently go through their units and discover items they no longer need. Where do these items go? Into one large garbage bin. Instead, encourage people to declutter before storing, and then provide large, clearly marked recycling bins on-site to help ensure paper, metal, and plastic waste is disposed of – and recycled – properly. 

You can also consider bins for potentially dangerous items like car batteries. This is a nice service for customers that reduces operator risk and the accumulation of trash on the property.

Benefits of Green Self Storage 

We’ve talked about the benefits of operating an environmentally friendly storage facility, but let’s delve a little deeper.

Gaining Consumer Loyalty

The majority of today’s consumers care about the environment and will be more likely to seek out sustainable storage solutions. This allows you to attract more – and better – tenants. Just check out some of these statistics from Solstice:

  • 92% of consumers say they’re more likely to trust brands that are environmentally conscious.
  • 88% of consumers will be more loyal to a company that supports environmental issues.
  • Overall sales revenue can increase up to 20% due to corporate responsibility practices.

The best part about customer loyalty? They’re more likely to refer your facility to family and friends.

Saving Money

We’ve talked about savings throughout this blog, but it’s worth mentioning again! Each step you take toward becoming a more sustainable self storage facility can save you money. Increasing energy efficiency saves on utility costs, installing sustainable materials saves on energy costs, and so on. According to Inside Self Storage, just a 2% investment to add green features yields savings of more than 10 times the original outlay in operational costs.

Additionally, the U.S. government offers certain rebates, tax credits, and other incentives to companies that pursue green construction. These incentives vary by state and location, but in some cases, they can put a significant amount of money back into your pocket. 

Improving Employee Morale

It may surprise you to learn that going green doesn’t just generate goodwill from consumers – employees also value it. Studies show that employees don’t want to leave a place that makes them feel as if they are a part of a work community that cares, reducing turnover. 

In addition, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reports that 38% of employees are more likely to be loyal to a company that prioritizes sustainability while the UCLA Newsroom reveals that employees at eco-friendly companies are 16% more productive than average. 

Green Storage Solutions Are the Next Big Thing

Green businesses demonstrate that sustainability is part of their mission and company culture. So, by becoming an environmentally friendly storage facility, you get a seat at the table with other big green companies. These companies enjoy cost savings, tax credits and incentives, improved efficiency, healthier workplaces, and more loyal customers. 

If you’re thinking about building a green self storage facility, or are interested in adding green features to your current facility, we recommend speaking with a self storage consultant today. We can help with that!

self-storage-consulting-ebook

COMMENTS