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Sustainability in the Self Storage Industry

Sustainability in the Self Storage IndustryTypically, when you think of sustainability, you may think of it in terms of three different areas: environmental, economic, and social. According to Wikipedia, the original semantic meaning of “sustainability” refers to the ability to continue over a long period of time. A closely related and overlapping concept is that of “sustainable development” or the process and pathway to achieve it.

So, in a society that continues to be concerned or socially aware of sustainability, how can the self storage industry introduce sustainability practices in their facility design and/or operations? While rooftop solar panels are usually the first thing that comes to mind, many owners are also experimenting with new sustainable products and materials to generate clean energy, reduce carbon emissions, and factor in ecological footprints.

So how can a self storage operation incorporate sustainable innovations? Here are a few ideas on how to make a self storage business sustainable, from building materials to landscaping to customer outreach.

Building Materials and a Sustainable Design

Sustainability in the Self StorageWhen self storage units have been in operation for a while, there are usually many ways to improve their sustainability and energy efficiency. When looking to remodel an existing unit or build a new one, consider partnering with a steel building contractor, such as Forge. We have over 15 years of experience building structures that are energy-efficient and use low-energy lighting, but without compromising on a high-quality, modern HVAC system.

Many self storage facilities are constructed of steel, which is already very durable. With Forge, being a steel building expert, we use Galvalume in the buildings we erect. This is a proprietary coated steel that prevents the corrosion and deterioration that could result in a compromised building envelope and energy leaks. We also highly recommend that the insulation is sufficient to regulate unit temperature. Rigid foam insulation infused with non-toxic borates is a great solution which also discourages pests.

Solar panels or efficient roofing is another benefit to steel construction. Roof coatings with a high percentage of infrared reflectants help maintain a more stable building temperature. A “cool” finish can reduce surface temperature by up to 38 degrees and save on energy costs by about 23 percent. (Barnard, 2018)

Retrofitting energy-efficient lights is a great way to reduce electricity consumption. Another option is to consider fitting larger lights with a motion sensor, so they either dim or turn off completely when there’s no activity. While installing LED lights or sensor switches might seem tedious on the surface, they will be much cheaper to run and maintain in the long run.

Lower energy use isn’t only sustainable, it creates economical savings for business owners and customers.

Sustainable Landscaping and Water Conservation

Sustainable Landscaping and Water ConservationWith so many self storage facilities popping up in communities across the U.S., it is key to differentiate your business. By paying attention to your landscaping and creating a natural environment, you will stand apart and also ensure that you’re not increasing inputs to stormwater systems. In fact, local zoning laws may require that new (including remodels) construction projects avoid increasing water runoff and or even include a constructed wetland, an underground system used to remove contaminants and impurities from septic-tanks liquid.

One sustainable strategy for self storage properties would be to decrease the amount of drinking water used for landscaping and increase the reclaimed water used. Landscaping thrives on reclaimed water (the relatively clean used water from baths, sinks and other kitchen appliances), and research shows that plants harness pollutants in runoff.

Xeriscape is one landscaping design that flourishes on runoff. It’s based on attractive plants that can handle both plentiful moisture and drought.

Tenant Awareness

Another way to create a more sustainable environment is to make tenants aware of items they should and shouldn’t store in their units. For example, paints, solvents, or any item that could leak toxic chemicals or harm air quality should not be stored. In addition, consider offering bins for recyclables and potentially damaging items in an effort to assist your tenants with properly disposing of trash or toxic materials.

Consider becoming an e-waste drop-off site or consider sponsoring an e-waste collection day. Recycling e-waste—drained batteries, empty ink cartridges, old cell phones, old computer equipment—is a convenience 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 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 termites.

Building a self storage facility that is sustainable may be challenging. When considering new construction or upgrading your existing property to be more eco-friendly, 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 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 revenue. With some ingenuity and partnering with the right steel building contractor, 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.

Works Cited
Barnard, J. (2018, September 14). Retrieved from Inside Self Storage: https://www.insideselfstorage.com/eco-friendly-storage/differentiation-through-sustainability-green-ideas-self-storage

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