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Advancements in Self-Storage Site Design: Projects Evolve Through Technology Sustainability and More

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Another trend is the use of recycled materials in the construction of new self-storage facilities. Almost all steel used now in storage buildings has recycled content. Fly ash, a by-product of coal burning, is used in concrete. Various other products contain recycled material as well. And because more people are using recycled products, the cost to produce them is getting cheaper.

There are even advancements in climate-controlled buildings. New high-efficiency HVAC units can control the temperature over a larger area, but sometimes low-tech works, too. A new form of cooling employs an earthtube, a simple device that uses very little electricity. A PVC tube is laid in a long trench under the building, then air from outside the building is pulled through the tube by a fan. Since the temperature of the earth is around 50 degrees, the air is cooled as it's pulled through the tube, thereby cooling the building.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification is becoming more important all the time. The benefits of a LEED-certified building or project go beyond the tax breaks. Such a building will run more efficiently, saving money in the long run.

Ideally, LEED certification should be achieved in the early planning stages of a self-storage facility, but it can be accomplished after the business is open and operating. In any case, you don't need certification to enjoy the benefits of an efficient building.

Quartz Drive Self-Storage of Auburn, Calif., incorporated number of eco-friendly features as part of its design. The topography allowed for a two-story, climate-control building. The owner installed solar panels to generate electricity and installed cutting-edge technology in the landscaping. The facility's newly developed irrigation system places the water right at the plants' roots so there is very little evaporation. The HVAC system is a super-efficient heat pump, and the facility includes compact fluorescent lights.

Modern storage facilities incorporate the latest technology into the buildings as well as everyday operation. From the layout and design as well as the use of advanced technology and materials, storage facilities built today provide a high level of security and ease of use.

Kenneth Carrell is the principal architect at ARE Associates in Lake Forest, Calif., an award-winning architectural firm specializing in the self-storage industry. For more information, call 949.305.4752; visit

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