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10 Simple Steps for Going Green in Self-Storage

July 1, 2008

5 Min Read
10 Simple Steps for Going Green in Self-Storage

There was a time when the word “eco-friendly” was synonymous with hippies and tree-huggers. Today, green is mainstream. People tote groceries home in canvas bags, hybrid cars cruise alongside gas-powered vehicles, and recycling is at an all-time high. Even the Oscars were earth-friendly this year.

Everyone wants to be green. More than just ethically the right thing to do, becoming eco-friendly can be good for your health and your business.

Light the Way

One of the easiest ways to be green is changing your light bulbs. The groovy-looking, spiral compact fluorescent light bulb, or CFL, is a type of fluorescent lamp that can replace an incandescent lamp and fit a multitude of light fixtures. The CFL gives off the same amount of light compared to regular light bulbs, but uses less power, has a longer life and saves greenhouse gases—an estimated 2,000 times its own weight. While CFLs cost more than your typical 100-watt bulb, the money you’ll save on your energy bill and in replacement costs more than makes up for it.

The Paper Trail

While you may not ever reach “paperless” status, there are a number of ways to cut back. First, make it a habit to print on both sides of the paper—that means double-sided contracts. There are also fax machines that do double-sided duty. Avoid color printing whenever possible, and purchase chlorine-free paper with a higher percentage of post-consumer recycled content. You may also consider switching to paper made from lighter stock such as bamboo, hemp, organic cotton or kenaf.

Also, take a look at where you can omit paper usage, such as posting employee info online or via e-mail. Collect e-mail addresses from your tenants so you can contact them via the computer rather than by mail. Review documents onscreen instead of printing them out.

Have a bin specially marked for recycled paper, even shredded sheets. This includes magazines, catalogs, newspaper and junk mail. Plus, recycling your toner and ink cartridges keeps metal, plastic and oil out of landfills.

Remodel, Rebuild

If you’re looking to remodel your facility or add on, consider using sustainable products. There are green products for nearly every inch of a building—low-VOC paint, low-flow toilets, CFL lighting, earth-friendly flooring and more. Reuse materials whenever possible; recycle what you can’t. If you need to replace furniture or computers, look for ones that use sustainable materials.

Landscaping Basics

Yes, plants are good for the environment. But if you’re constantly watering or using a lot of pesticides it defeats the purpose. Instead of row upon row of semi-annual blossoms, consider planting drought-tolerant native perennials. Not only will these plants require less maintenance, they can also be beauties, blooming at various times each year. To add a splash of color, plant annuals like petunias, daisies and snapdragons in decorative pots in the spring.

While grass is pretty, it needs major upkeep, so keep grass to a minimum. Instead, install rock landscapes, which can also be eye-catching when you use a variety of rock colors and styles. If a fountain feature is desired, explore self-contained systems that recycle the water.

Indoor Pollution

While outdoor pollution is often hyped, few consider indoor pollution—mold, dust, furniture, carpets, plant pollen and various chemicals. Proper ventilation is one way to quash these pollutants. Clean your filters and vents often, and keep air circulating in small, enclosed spaces, such as offices and hallways. If you have windows with screens, open them. Consider propping your door open during nice weather.

Cleaning is your other best defense against indoor pollution. Choose green products to cut back on these toxins because citrus and pine-based solvents can react with the ozone to create formaldehyde. Also, keep the use of pesticides to a minimum and away from any walking areas as they can attach to shoes and clothing.

The Hybrid Advantage

If records storage is part of your business, consider switching your pickup and delivery vehicle to a hybrid. There are a number of affordable hybrids on the market, from small compacts to SUVs. Hybrids combine a battery-powered electric motor, which takes some of the work off the combustion engine, with traditional gas power. Not only will you save big on today’s out-of-control gas prices, hybrids emit less greenhouse gases.

If you regularly use a golf cart, consider investing in a quality bicycle or even a bicycle cart—a bicycle that has built-in storage capacity—to carry general maintenance tools. Or switch to a golf cart that uses batteries instead of gas.

Seal the Deal

Heat and cooling often escape through cracks in the sealing around windows and doors. To repair cracked seals, use a high-quality sealant. There are also specialty sealants and coatings for rooftops. Check the Inside Self-Storage archives for more on this topic. In addition, include extra insulation whenever possible, and install energy-efficient windows. Also, look for tears in screens. Holes are easy access points for bugs.

Be a Computer Saver

Computers are a necessity in this industry, but they can also be energy-suckers. Make it a habit to keep them in tip-top shape with regular dusting and making any repairs in a timely manner. Another way to save is turning off computers and corresponding power strips when you’re done for the day. Give your computer a rest whenever possible by setting it to go to sleep automatically during short breaks. There are also a number of energy-saving computers, printers and monitors on the market today. When you do upgrade, be sure to recycle your old equipment. You may even get a tax deduction.

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