Site and Office Design Elements
A popular design feature added to many projects is a tower element. This is used to get sign placement up higher for better visibility. An added benefit is the building tower can be used to hide a cell tower. Many jurisdictions don't allow a plain cell tower any more, so incorporating a tower element into the design allows it to be installed and disguised. The potential income from having a cell tower on a self-storage site is tremendous.
New offices are using “display units” to help customers choose the unit they need. Signage is used to describe what can fit in each size, and retail merchandise is displayed in the units to maximize space. The advantage is the manager doesn't have to lock the office and take the customer out to the “back 40” to show him a unit, potentially losing business in his absence. One facility used this feature so successfully that 95 percent of the owner's customers selected their unit from the display.
The hot-ticket item in self-storage design right now is energy generation. With so much bare roofing on self-storage sites, a number of operators are installing solar panels on their buildings, selling excess energy to the local utility.
Another growing trend is “green” roofs, or living roofs, which involve the installation of living plants on the roof top. The benefit is the roof will last a lot longer and reduce the amount of rain-water runoff. Using a green roof in combination with solar panels will improve the efficiency of the panels by helping them stay cooler.