When considering landscaping, look for native plants that require little water. Adding trees and shrubs to the parking lot increases oxygen in the atmosphere and reduces heat islands, Plunkett points out. Also, consider adding water-catching systems, which collect water from rooftops and divert it to plants and flowerbeds.
In fact, handling water runoff is one of six LEED categories in which self-storage can participate, according to Brooker. Still, a major issue for self-storage developers is there simply aren’t enough products that meet LEED standards. American Buildings discovered this when looking for a LEED-certified skylight. “We’ve definitely got the horse in front of the cart,” Brooker says. “We’re ready to do it, but the products aren’t available yet.”
When Sitt decided to convert a turn-of-the-century cold-storage facility into an 80,000-square-foot storage facility, he had no idea what treasures he’d find inside. With a desire to recycle or repurpose as much material as possible, he was able to retain much of the building’s glory. “We’re trying to recycle the building, use it and minimize our impact on the environment wherever we can,” Sitt says.
The building contained a copious amount of wood, which was reused whenever possible or given to local furniture craftsman and landscapers. Sitt also chose to keep the building’s original brick façade in place. “I could re-stucco or paint it, but then it would be gone forever,” he says. The facility’s retail store stocks recycled boxes and packing peanuts made from cornstarch in addition to traditional ones.
Sitt chose the most efficient light bulbs and fixtures on the market, and also uses electricity from renewable sources. On the building’s seventh floor, a 200-square-foot area was home to a blower from 1908. Rather than make it rentable space, Sitt let the blower retain its home. “Anyone would say, ‘That’s rentable square footage.’ But I felt it was an artifact. How can you just throw it out?” he asks.
Sitts admits some of his ideas may not make sense. Take the solar-powered water heater he plans to install. “What storage facility uses hot water? None,” he says. “But our bathroom will have hot water. When people hear this and understand it, that’s my marketing.”
In fact, being a green facility is the cornerstone of the facility’s marketing strategy. “When someone makes a decision to store, it’s location, price, convenience and so on,” Sitt says. “We’re changing that. We’re saying, ‘We’re green.’ And we hope that grows.”