Green in Action: Northgate Self Storage in Colorado Springs Achieves LEED Certification and Much More

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By Amy Campbell

While the self-storage industry has flirted with green building, few developers have actually taken on the challenge. One reason is the cost—using sustainable products and practices definitely adds to the price tag. Second, the learning curve is steep. A developer can’t simply decide to “go green.” To be certified as green, a building must meet certain criteria, which is intricately detailed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

Lee Fredrick, a self-storage developer and owner of Grow Your Storage LLC, knew both of these factors, but was determined to overcome the challenges to create a green-certified self-storage facility. After successfully building and operating seven facilities in Texas, Fredrick moved to Colorado. There, he found a dynamic site in Colorado Springs ripe for self-storage development. But rather than go the traditional development route, Fredrick was determined to try something new.

“When you spend as much time and capital as we did in the pursuit process, it only makes sense to take a little extra effort to build an exceptional facility,” he says. “We wanted to create the best opportunity for success, and we chose to distinguish this project in all areas—location, appearance, amenities and design.”

When designing for optimum performance and durability, a developer must consider the design principles incorporated in the USGBC’s certification system, says Fredrick of the decision to build a green facility. “Having asked myself what kind of self-storage property I wanted to own in 20 years, I decided to build it now.”

Getting Certified          

Although the land was available and the partner/developer/general contractor, Gary Erickson, was ready, finding a willing lender and hammering out the details of the construction loan took nearly two years. The addition of green design and pursuit of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification was a factor that influenced the local lender, Colorado Springs State Bank, to consider making a construction loan when so many capital sources were sitting on the sidelines. 

In that time, Fredrick studied to become a LEED AP (Accredited Professional) from the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI). “A substantial component of the added cost of LEED certification derives from the extra third parties needed to meet the stringent requirements of certification,” Frederick says. “I opted to become my own LEED administrator for the project. I personally oversaw the documentation and submittal of required materials. The knowledge I gained while studying to become a LEED AP has also helped me to direct other professionals to participate more effectively in the design and construction process.”

The voluntary building-certification program, developed by the USGBC, offers guidance on creating more energy-efficient structures while minimizing the environmental impact.

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