Guest Post: Green Building Improvements For Self-Storage Facilities By Matthew Stites

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    As a relatively energy-efficient industry, self-storage is uniquely poised to show its mettle as a leading force for sustainability this Earth Day season. Whether you’re developing a new facility or revamping an old one, there are many steps, large and small, that owners and operators can take to make their facility a beacon of eco-friendly construction. Building a more efficient facility In a recent report by Bryan Hurlburt of Green Garage Lighting, a facility in Stafford, CT found that their fluorescent lighting system could be revamped with LEDs to cut energy consumption and cost almost in half. With the new LED system, high installation and maintenance costs associated with fluorescent tubes were eliminated, and Stafford enjoyed a 35% decrease on their energy use compared to the previous year. But the changeover has larger implications than a smaller electric bill. According to the article, their saved energy prevented 21,738 pounds of carbon emissions. Another solution for cutting down on energy costs is a process called “daylighting,” in which sunlight is used to supplement your powered lighting system. Skylights and strategically placed windows can brighten up large spaces while drastically reducing power consumption. The U.S. Department of Energy notes that “daylighting” facilities in the U.S. get best results from South- and North-facing windows, which maximizes light intake while keeping temperatures stable. Facilities can do more than limit the amount of energy they use— focus should also be placed on controlling wasted resources like light, heat, air and water. Your facility’s building envelope is a key opportunity for energy-efficient improvements. Self-storage facility layouts are conducive to quick and easy solar panel installation, but another option is to utilize the flat space for green roofing. Cultivating a vegetation system on the roof of a storage facility is a great way to control rainwater irrigation, and it also provides a natural method for insulation by offsetting the building’s light exposure during warm months and trapping heat in the cold. The Department of Energy found that air leakage can account for up to 40% of a business’s climate costs, which means updating your HVAC or ventilation systems is crucial for limiting overall energy consumption. Air-barrier systems can drastically reduce wasted heat and cooling costs, and low-emissivity (Low-E) coatings on windows can cut unwanted heat transfer by up to 50%. Don’t forget the little things If building improvements just aren’t in your budget, there are many small ways to contribute to a cleaner, more sustainable work environment. Recycling is a basic tenet of the green movement, and odds are you already have systems in place for recycling old boxes, shredded documents and packing materials. Upgrading office tech can cut down on paper and energy use, and it presents another recycling opportunity. With rapid technological advancements, e-waste is a global concern accounting for the fastest-growing type of municipal waste. Organizations like Ecosquid and Freecycle make it easy to toss your old computer or cellphone without harmfully impacting the environment. Going green doesn’t just have longterm global implications. There are short-term benefits to your bottom line in the form of tax deductions. Eco-friendly initiatives will win your facility some nice tax breaks outlined in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (peruse section 179D for details). In a nutshell, owners can write off the costs of installing or upgrading lighting, HVAC/water, or building envelope improvements implemented between December 31, 2005 and the act’s expiration date currently set for January 1, 2014. Learn more Sustainable design isn’t a haphazard endeavor. It requires a considerable investment of time and money with mostly longterm payoff. The first step to green development is becoming educated in the necessary steps. The U.S. Green Building Council is an excellent resource for planning viable green solutions for your facility. In addition to a wealth of informational resources, the council offers a voluntary building certification program called Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for businesses looking to improve their environmental footprint. The program offers third-party consulting services as well as a certification institute for owners and operators opting to provide their own administrative evaluation and accreditation of their facility’s green efforts.  ]]>

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