Self-storage is an inherently green industry, using far fewer resources to operate our facilities than it takes to power most other businesses occupying as much space. To take things a step further, many facilities have embraced the green movement and sustainable building trends. The growing popularity of solar panels and recycling programs at storage businesses has poised us to become a leading force in this sector.
Last week, we covered some green building improvements for self-storage facilities to consider. Now let’s take a look at eco-friendly efforts being put into practice at storage facilities nationwide and beyond— just in time for Earth Day.
Going green doesn’t have to mean slapping an expensive solar array on the roof. Storage businesses can do their part by recycling and conserving what they can. This weekend, Chicago storage chain Life Storage is challenging the community to participate in its third annual document-shredding event. Members of the community can bring in unwanted documents to be shredded and recycled at any Life Storage location. There’s a $100 VISA gift card prize for whoever brings in the most paper.
The company’s Libertyville location will even recycle used electronics. Given the fact that electronic waste is the most rapidly growing branch of municipal waste in the U.S., this is an opportunity for community members and storage facilities alike to recycle old computers, phones, printers, TVs, microwaves, and other electricity-dependent devices.
Some storage operators have found that using better chemicals for cleaning and landscaping can minimize their facility’s environmental impact, as well as reduce potential harm to employees. We’re dropping the mop and dirty water bucket in favor of spray cleaners and reusable cleaning cloths. Robert Madsen of U-Lock Mini Storage in Canada noted in a Self-Storage Talk thread that his facility switched to a quick-dry floor polish spray that reduces cleaning time and has less impact on indoor air quality.
Facilities everywhere are coming up with new, creative solutions to energy sustainability issues. In addition to traditional methods like installing timers for lights and improving insulation, alternative energy solutions are becoming much more affordable for businesses.
Massachusetts facility Lakeville Self-Storage has received numerous accolades for its green efforts. A geothermal air conditioning system, in which water from hot underground wells is pumped into a ventilation system in the facility walls, has drastically increased the building’s efficiency while reducing costs. Ventilation and temperature control are primary concerns for individual unit spaces, accounting for insulation challenges at self-storage facilities. The fact that Lakeville predicts their system will pay for itself in just four years speaks to the efficacy of geothermal energy.
A facility under construction in Oakley, California is ambitiously designed with solar energy in mind. The solar panels, built on raised supports that also serve as shaded parking spaces, are projected to produce 1.5 megawatts of renewable energy. The facility will sell its covered parking as an ongoing alternative revenue stream.
As far as green efforts go in self-storage, these examples represent the tip of the iceberg. If you’re a storage owner or operator with green plans on the horizon, share your thoughts in a comment below. Hopefully, your actions will inspire a new, sustainable future for self-storage.