Since the first Earth Day was proclaimed in 1970, protecting the environment has evolved from a grassroots demonstration to a global cause. Individuals, businesses and the government have all taken steps to ensure the planet will be a healthy environment for generations to come. From recycling to alternative sources of energy, the hunt for a green future is on.
With buildings generating 72 percent of all energy consumption in the United States, it’s no surprise that a major focus of the green movement has turned to the development and construction of buildings. Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED), a voluntary building-certification program developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, offers further guidance on creating more energy-efficient structures while minimizing the environmental impact.
In the commercial building sector, self-storage already has many inherent green qualities. Facilities are made of steel, a recyclable product. They use less energy to operate (particularly those that don’t offer climate control), and require few employees to operate. Once built, little waste is produced, compared with an office building, for example.
But while the self-storage industry already has many green aspects and its buildings leave a smaller carbon footprint than other types of commercial real estate, there’s still room for improvement. Some developers and builders are taking up the challenge.
Many self-storage facilities are already going green by installing solar panels on rooftops to harness energy from the sun. Solar technology has evolved and is now more affordable and available. Plus, there are many government rebates and tax credits available to offset the cost of installation. In some states, most notably Florida, facility owners can even sell excess power the facility generates back to the power company. Solar panels can also be installed on RV and boat carports, a huge boon for developers looking to create future profit.
Another cost-effective element that can be added to rooftops is “COOL” systems or white paint. COOL paints or panels have a special pigment that reflects solar radiation by at least 25 percent. Metal roofs coated with PVDF-based resin can achieve solar reflectance of more than 25 percent, reducing energy consumption by up to 40 percent as part of a total system design, says Wes Brooker, marketing development manager for American Buildings Co. The Eufaula, Ala.-based company offers a number of COOL paint products including SmartKote PVDF premium coatings.
Facilities with climate control will have the biggest advantage, particularly in warmer climates. “Compared to bare Galvalume roof panels, which are used extensively in self-storage, savings in cooling can run as much as 50 percent,” Brooker says. “Another advantage of COOL coatings is they help reduce the heat-island effect by reducing the amount of heat absorbed and held by a building."