A Green Future for Self-Storage: Getting on the Eco-Bandwagon

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In the first year of operation, Moita had a credit of $1,400 from his electric company. Currently, California’s power companies do not pay customers whose solar operations generate an excess in solar power. Moita is hoping that may change in the near future, allowing him to sell power back to the electric company or to nearby homes and a shopping center.

Jansheski also invested heavily in solar panels to cover the rooftop of Bellam Self Storage & Boxes. The panels provide 100 percent of the electricity use for the 60,000-square-foot facility. 

Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

Adding a solar element to a self-storage property isn’t the only avenue to green. There are a number of options for owners and managers interested in eco-friendly products and services. Some are easy and low-cost while others are more challenging.

Jansheski admits that converting Bellam to an all-green facility was daunting. To become a Bay Area Certified Green Business, the site had to meet several requirements, and Jansheski tackled one area at a time. Easy changes included swapping out bleached white paper towels for natural brown in the bathrooms, and requesting that her cleaning company use only green products. Costlier renovations included installing low-flow toilets, motion-sensor faucets and an electric hot-water heater under the bathroom sink.

Jansheski also turned her attention to Bellam’s retail store. Employees now shred and sell paper to customers for packing. The store also carries green packing peanuts. And there isn’t a dumpster on the property, so tenants can’t throw away items. Instead, Jansheski gives every tenant a list of charities with contact information so they can repurpose their goods.

Repurposing was a key to Jeffrey Sitt’s first foray into the self-storage industry. Instead of building from the ground up, he found a turn-of-the-century, cold-storage building in New York, recycling as much material as possible during the conversion, and then installing the most energy-efficient products possible. The facility opened under the name Hall Street Storage, but was soon changed to iStoreGreen to reflect Sitt’s mission. iStoreGreen recently joined the Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership to use renewable energy for 100 percent of the facility’s electricity.

iStoreGreen gives each new tenant a reusable tote bag, CFL light bulb, and information about conserving and recycling.

Sitt’s objective has reached far beyond the facility as well. He began an initiative to eliminate plastic bags in Brooklyn, sponsors a local park and even plants trees for every customer who stores with iStoreGreen. “We're not just a place trying to do green things. It is who we are,” says Sitt, who has been approached by developers interested in the green self-storage model. “The country as a whole has woken up to the fact that saving our planet is everybody's responsibility, and this is the new economy.”

Professional Self Storage Management, a Tucson, Ariz.-based consulting and management company, has also established a number of changes for its facilities, including using recycled ink cartridges and sending invoices by e-mail. Most of the company’s sites are in warm-weather climates, so desert landscaping is installed to minimize water use. Stores with indoor lighting are being converted to motion-sensor lights, and gas-powered golf carts are being swapped out for electric ones.

“I’m proud of my managers and staff for giving us numerous ideas of how to make our facilities more environmentally friendly, and hope that others may take our lead and join with us in this worthy cause,” says Mel Holsinger, company president. 

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