With the overall green-building market for commercial and residential expected to increase from today’s $36-49 billion to $96-140 billion by 2013, according to McGraw Hill Construction, there’s no denying green building is the new frontier in construction.
“This is not a fad. This is not a trend. This is the future of the world,” says Buster Owens, president of The Rabco Corp., Winter Garden, Fla. Owens’ interest in green building compelled him to become a LEED-certified accredited professional in new construction and major renovations. Owens was also recently invited to participate on the design team for a new Metro Self Storage facility in Murray, Utah.
While Rabco has yet to embark on a full LEED-certified self-storage project, the company is working with customers to bring green systems and products into their designs. It is building a covered parking lot in Knoxville, Tenn., that will feature solar power. Other green initiatives are being considered, including gravel and open-grid pavers instead of asphalt. The project could even qualify for LEED certification points.
In addition, the project’s solar panels will enable the owner to depreciate the structure and the solar panels together, Owens says, decreasing the cost of the overall project. “That’s a big deal, because that’s a big part of the cost of the project. The cost of the structure is significant and that accelerated depreciation is attractive.”
There are also a number of federal and state tax rebates, incentives and credits for new projects with sustainable aspects. “There are all kinds of offsets, especially in renewable energy like solar, to offset some of those costs,” Owens says.
Plus, there are other benefits for self-storage facilities that are built to green standards, including a reduction in operating costs and a higher return in investment (because the value of the building increases). Occupancy ratios typically go up 3 percent as do rental rates, Owens says.
In addition to choosing green materials for new construction, there are other avenues that, with some thought and planning, can lead to a more eco-friendly building. This includes selecting a conversion over a new build, or using products made from a higher content of recycled materials. “These are simple things you can do that don’t cost a lot of money,” says Charles Plunkett, president of Capco Steel and Artistic Builders Inc.
Some builders and developers may soon find they no longer have a choice when it comes to building sustainable projects, as more cities and towns adopt green ordinances. “There are a few cities out there that are ultra-progressive, so there will be pockets that are more stringent with green building,” Plunkett says.
Plunkett came across this firsthand while building a facility in Austin, Texas, four years ago. Because the building was in an affluent area, the owner had to adhere to higher standards. Stor Bee Caves is 100 percent steel with a small footprint, and uses a water-catchment system to irrigate landscaping. The project also included waste-segregation management, a streamlined way to repurpose materials from construction sites.