Other green design elements include energy-efficient heating and cooling systems in climate-controlled units, solar panels attached to roofs, and xeriscape landscaping that limits water consumption. Lighting sensors and timers also reduce energy use.
Another consideration is a facility’s water runoff from natural sources such as snow and rain. Kenneth Carrell, principal architect of ARE Associates, which specializes in storage design, predicts curbing water runoff will be more enforced by many cities in the future. “California already requires us to contain water on the site and not let it just run off into the storm-drain system. Saved water can be used for toilets and irrigation.”
Keeping Customers and Staff in Mind
Another driving factor in contemporary designs are the tenants and staff who use the facility on a daily basis. With competition at an all-time high, operators aren't only looking to stand out, they want to provide superior service. This starts by designing a property with the customer experience in mind, from the street to the unit. “A facility should be designed so the customer has ready access into the facility, feels secure when at the facility, finds the unit easily with the use of good, way-finding graphics, and gets staff assistance when requested,” Relf says.
Carrell recommends the incorporation of wide drive aisles, easy entry and exit, and well-positioned elevators. Campbell also suggests elements for convenience. “Maybe use automatic doors to enter a hallway, have more entrances into a long hallway so the tenants don’t have to walk as far, or put the larger units closer to the entrances,” he says.
Finally, think about office design and function for staff, including the location of the computers, printer, phone lines, security monitors and more. Other considerations include the positioning of the office and windows so the person behind the desk can keep tabs on what’s happening at the property, Culbreth says.
Ultimately, everyone associated with the project wants to be proud to present it to the community. “Utilize color, texture and all other available resources to help make your facility more attractive, more inviting and more desirable than the guys down the street,” Plunkett concludes.