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Enhancing Sustainability in the Self Storage Industry

forge building enhancing sustainability in the self storage industry

When it comes to sustainability, there are three key areas to consider: environmental, economic, and social. In today's society, there is a growing consumer interest in supporting businesses that prioritize eco-friendly practices. Therefore, it is crucial for the self storage industry to introduce sustainability measures in facility design and operations.

However, sustainability goes beyond incorporating LED lighting, solar panels, or green roofs. Facility owners should explore innovative sustainable products and materials to generate clean energy, reduce carbon emissions, and minimize ecological footprints. When constructing or renovating self storage facilities, it is essential to collaborate with construction teams that utilize recyclable and renewable materials, aiming to have a minimal impact on the Earth and its resources. The ultimate goal is to build facilities that benefit both customers and the local community, ensuring longevity and efficient operation 1.

So, where should facility owners and investors begin? Here are several ideas to make a self storage business more sustainable, ranging from building materials to landscaping to customer outreach.

forge building enhancing sustainability insulationBuilding Materials and a Sustainable Design

Existing self storage units can be improved in terms of sustainability and energy efficiency. When considering remodeling or constructing new units, partnering with experts in steel building, such as Forge, can be highly beneficial. With over 15 years of experience, Forge specializes in constructing energy-efficient structures.

Steel and Insulation

Many self storage facilities are made of steel due to its durability. Forge utilizes Galvalume, a proprietary coated steel that prevents corrosion and deterioration, ensuring a strong building envelope and minimal energy leaks. Adequate insulation is also crucial for regulating unit temperature. Rigid foam insulation infused with non-toxic borates is an excellent solution that also deters pests.

The Roof

forge building enhancing sustainability roofing

Steel construction offers the advantage of incorporating solar panels or efficient roofing. Roof coatings with a high percentage of infrared reflectants help maintain a stable building temperature. A “cool” finish can reduce surface temperature by up to 38 degrees and save energy costs by approximately 23 percent 2. Additionally, numerous incentive programs exist to help facility owners achieve a quicker return on investment, particularly in sunnier states where incentive programs are abundant. Local utility programs may even offer the option to sell back any excess power generated.

HVAC Systems

Including energy-efficient HVAC systems is crucial when aiming for a more sustainable self storage facility. Higher SEER (season energy-efficiency ratio) values indicate more economical mechanical units. Additionally, minimizing ductwork and utilizing fans to distribute conditioned air can provide consistent heating and cooling, suitable for self storage 3.

forge building enhancing sustainability lightingLighting

Retrofitting energy-efficient lights is an effective way to reduce electricity consumption. Another option is to install larger lights with motion sensors, dimming or turning them off when no activity is detected. Motion sensors can reduce energy waste by 10 percent.

While the installation of LED lights or sensor switches may seem tedious at first, they prove to be cost-effective in the long run. LED lights consume up to 70 percent less energy compared to metal halide and mercury vapor options. They also have a much longer lifespan, lasting 40 to 50 times longer, and often come with warranties of up to 10 years.

Reducing energy usage not only contributes to sustainability but also leads to economic savings for business owners and customers. Depending on the location, federal and state tax deductions, as well as utility incentive programs, can further support these efforts.

Sustainable Landscaping and Water Conservation

forge building enhancing sustainability landscapingOne sustainable way to differentiate your facility is by paying attention to the landscaping and creating a natural environment. This will help your facility stand apart and also ensure that you are not increasing the burden on stormwater systems. Zoning laws may even require new construction projects, including remodels, to avoid increasing water runoff and potentially include constructed wetlands, which are underground systems used to remove contaminants and impurities from septic tank liquid.

Another sustainable strategy for self storage properties is to decrease the use of drinking water for landscaping and increase the utilization of reclaimed water. Landscaping thrives on reclaimed water, which refers to relatively clean used water from baths, sinks, and kitchen appliances. Research shows that plants can effectively filter pollutants in runoff.

Xeriscape, a landscaping design that thrives on runoff, is based on attractive plants that can handle both abundant moisture and drought.

Tenant Awareness

Creating a more sustainable environment can be as simple as making tenants aware of what items should and should not be stored in their units. For instance, paints, solvents, or any items that could leak toxic chemicals and harm air quality should not be stored. Additionally, providing bins for recyclables and potentially damaging items can assist tenants in properly disposing of trash and toxic materials.

Consider becoming an e-waste drop-off site or sponsoring an e-waste collection day. Recycling e-waste, such as drained batteries, empty ink cartridges, old cell phones, and old computer equipment, is convenient for existing customers and can attract new people to your facility. This can be promoted on your website and social media channels. After the collection event, ask a certified recycler to pick up the materials, or drop them off at a certified recycle facility.

Promote authoritative sustainability websites and information. Provide sustainability tips through your website. Link to the websites of sustainable products, businesses, and green building organizations.

Other “Green” Ideas

Some other ways to become eco-friendly and promote sustainability are to:

  • Sell sustainable products. Selling recycled boxes and packing is popular. Also consider selling storage products made from recycled plastic, corn, recycled tires, etc., and other unique materials.
  • Use sustainable products. Buy paints and siding that contain no volatile organic compounds. Use eco-friendly cleaning and insect-control products. Orange oil is great for deterring termites.

forge building corporate sustainability practices

Building a self storage facility that is sustainable may be challenging. When considering new construction or upgrading your existing property to be more sustainable, look for a reputable building partner like Forge Building Company that understands all the options for energy savings and sustainability. Teaming with a sustainable company will help you create an attractive facility that is also good for the environment and community in which it resides for years to come.

Introducing corporate-sustainability practices into the facility design and operation of a self storage facility is one of the best and most responsible ways to increase business and add revenue. With some ingenuity and partnering with the right steel building contractors, self storage operators can easily become active members of their communities, being recognized as a vital business committed to cleaning up their community and saving the planet.


1. Rebekah Brown, J. W. (2021, June 19). Inside Self Storage. Retrieved from

2. Barnard, J. (2018, September 14). Retrieved from Inside Self-Storage:

3. Overcash, S. (2023, April 4). Inside Self Storage. Retrieved from

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