July 17, 2008

3 Min Read
Sustainable Building Products for Self-Storage

Manufacturers of building products for the self-storage industry will be under greater pressure in the coming years to report the sustainable attributes of its products to developers and building teams. Until now, green building projects have only represented about 10 percent of the construction market, but several factors will ensure growth in this market segment.

More local, state and federal governments are mandating sustainable designed, built and maintained facilities within their jurisdictions. Many of these regulations have included adopting outright the once-voluntary green building-rating systems developed by one of several non-governmental organizations (NGOs), such as the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) or The Green Building Initiative (GBI).

In 2000, the USGBC introduced the leading national benchmark for sustainable buildings, the LEED (Leadership for Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System. Several years later, the GBI followed with the Green Globes program.

Manufacturers that target the self-storage community can no longer ignore these rating systems. LEED has been required for all new construction within several U.S. cities, and Canada now requires all buildings be LEED-certified, including self-storage facilities. To design for the largest landlord in the country, the U.S. General Services Administration, project teams are required to produce a LEED Silver Certified federal building, or any government storage facility that falls under the agency’s responsibility.

The Point System

LEED and Green Globes represent third-party verification of the sustainable performance of a building. Each rating system has a point system with categories representing the major element of a building project, with a performance measurement tool within each of those categories. Points toward certification are gained within each category.

LEED has six categories:

  • Sustainable Sites

  • Energy and Atmosphere

  • Water Efficiency

  • Materials and Resources

  • Indoor Environmental Quality

  • Innovation and Design Process

Green Globes has seven areas of assessment. Five are similar to USGBC’s program, but two additional areas are covered under this program, including Project Management and Emissions.

Because these systems do not rate products but instead measure a building team’s performance in each of these categories, it can be difficult for manufacturers to figure out how its products fit into this program. The general rule is to report how the product performs within the appropriate categories of LEED or Green Globes.

Some areas relevant to the self-storage industry could include the product’s contributions to the overall recycled content of the building, the ways in which the product assists with energy efficiency, or hard-scaped areas, such as the parking areas and driveways, are pervious.

Typically, there are consultants who perform the assessment of a product’s sustainable attributes, or the manufacturer has its technical director handle the task. Any claims resulting from an assessment must be verifiable by a third-party testing lab or separate certifying organization.

Whole support industries have sprouted up to assist with this endeavor. In addition to the rise of green building-rating tools, there are additional developments that should lead everyone to the conclusion that green building is coming to self-storage. Standard 189, an important initiative from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers and several industry partners, is attempting to create a translation of LEED into building code, which can then be used as a model for codes across the country.

This initiative, along with the momentum generated by the NGOs green building-rating tools and government regulators, signals that the tipping point has come. There will come a time in the near future when sustainable building will be standard practice for self-storage.

Paul Nutcher, CSI CDT, LEED AP, is president of Green Apple Group and the communications director for the Central Florida Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council. To reach him, call 407.517.4748; e-mail [email protected]; visit www.greenappleconsult.com.

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