The Glory of Green Building: Eco-Friendly Options for Today’s High-Performance Self-Storage Developments

Sustainable building is becoming a key focus in the self-storage industry. The benefits are numerous, and the costs are more palatable than in previous years. Read specific reasons to consider eco-friendly options for your next development and how to incorporate them successfully. You’ll also learn about certifications you can achieve.

6 Min Read
Jackson | Main Architecture P.S.

In contemporary self-storage architecture, high performance and sustainability are becoming more than mere buzzwords; they’re creating a foundation for industry development. Our company is a champion of this transition, focusing on the integration of science-based practices into facility design. In fact, we designed the first and second storage projects to be certified in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) in the state of Washington.

This strategic industry pivot toward green building isn’t solely a nod to environmental stewardship but a multi-faceted approach that supports business efficiency, enhances customer satisfaction, and elevates the overall value proposition of self-storage services. Let’s look more closely at the benefits and options.

Benefits

The blueprint for a sustainable self-storage facility begins with comprehensive design-phase considerations. The goal is to prioritize energy efficiency and the use of durable, low-maintenance, environmentally responsible materials. This early-stage commitment helps minimize construction costs in the short term and operational expenses in the long run. For example:

  • Features such as energy-efficient lighting and advanced HVAC systems reduce utility costs and maintenance demands.

  • A robust building envelope fortified with higher insulation levels and high-performance window installations (especially triple-pane variants) foster substantial energy conservation, indoor comfort and cost savings over time.

  • Advanced insulation and air-barrier systems directly contribute to more precise temperature and humidity, minimizing the impact of external temperatures on the internal environment and preventing uncontrolled air and moisture infiltration.

Together, these elements ensure a stable self-storage climate. They not only reduce the risk of mold and mildew proliferation and the degradation of tenants’ stored goods, they contribute to energy efficiency by reducing the demand on heating and cooling systems. Ultimately, protecting your customer’s items strengthens trust while helping to mitigate liability.

In addition, green projects provide access to incentives including tax rebates, expedited permitting and specialized finance options. They also align with the increasing prevalence of local and state codes that mandate sustainable design and building practices. Improved environmental performance standards will soon case to be optional and become obligatory.

However, it’s a positive shift, as the adoption of sustainable design principles will only increase self-storage safety and facility resilience against natural disasters. Solar installations and the elimination of fossil-fuel-based systems exemplify such principles, offering renewable energy and reducing fire hazards, respectively.

Finally, as public consciousness shifts toward improved natural resource conservation, consumers increasingly favor businesses that demonstrate a commitment to sustainability. Energy-efficient and environmentally responsible self-storage facilities not only meet this demand, they distinguish themselves in a competitive market, attracting a clientele who value and support green practices.

The Value Proposition

Investing in green buildings not only aligns with ecological values, it promises tangible financial results. Sustainable self-storage facilities typically have lower operational costs and command higher rental rates, reflecting the premium placed on green spaces by consumers. Moreover, these buildings often boast higher resale values, attracting a new wave of environmentally conscious investors.

Integrating green features into a self-storage project is also more cost-effective than ever, with many products and materials available at competitive prices. The long-term savings on energy, water, maintenance and equipment replacement, coupled with the rebates and tax incentives, make sustainability a wise investment. The current availability of substantial funding through initiatives like the Inflation Reduction Act further underscores the financial viability of eco- building practices.

Strategies

Delving further into high-performance methodologies, we find a spectrum of green-building strategies, from energy-management systems that fine-tune consumption in real time to renewable-energy sources like solar, wind or geothermal, depending on geography and climate. These initiatives not only contribute to a self-storage facility’s energy independence, they may generate additional revenue and offset significant portions of energy consumption from the local grid.

Materials selection plays a fundamental role in the sustainability of a project. Self-storage facilities are typically comprised of steel and concrete, both of which are very energy-intensive to make. Selecting recycled steel produced in an electric arc-blast furnace and concrete with a reduced percentage of Portland cement (such as Type 1L cement), offers eco alternatives that don’t compromise structural integrity and can be sourced for similar or reduced cost based on local availability.

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This three-story Extra Space Storage under development in Greater Seattle has a focus on environmental stewardship. Spanning an estimated 99,391 square feet, this modern facility uses lighting designed to minimize light pollution and be night-sky-friendly. Its plans also include an enhanced tree canopy to increase pervious surfaces for natural water filtration. The company will pursue LEED certification to underscore its dedication to sustainable and eco-friendly construction practices.

Certification

Achieving certifications provides a framework for incorporating sustainable practices into self-storage building. There are many programs from which to choose, but they generally evaluate project features such as energy efficiency, indoor air quality and materials, offering a roadmap to enhance your project’s environmental performance.

While certification sets a high standard, there are alternatives for those developers who don’t wish to go this route. Engaging with energy-modeling experts, building all-electric facilities and selecting low-embodied carbon materials are steps that significantly contribute to a project's green credentials. Designing sites with water-conserving techniques, such as rainwater harvesting and the installation of low-flow fixtures, alongside thoughtful landscaping and waste-reduction policies also demonstrate a commitment to minimizing environmental impact.

Great Synergy

As high-performance building becomes the new standard in self-storage, it’s important to choose a project team based on its experience and commitment to sustainability, and engage all members early in the design process. This includes but isn’t limited to the architect, structural engineer, civil engineer, mechanical and plumbing engineer, building-envelope consultant, and general contractor. Having an integrated design team from the start will allow more opportunities to find efficiencies when changes are less expensive and contractors can provide pricing guidance to optimize the cost/benefit ratio of sustainable strategies in advance.

By adopting a holistic approach to design and construction, we’re creating self-storage facilities that meet today's needs while preparing for tomorrow's challenges. Environmental responsibility and business success aren’t mutually exclusive but rather complementary. Through careful planning and thoughtful design, we aim to show the vast potential for sustainable solutions to benefit developers, customers and the environment alike.

Robin Murphy is owner and senior principal of Jackson | Main Architecture P.S., an integrated firm with experience in designing self-storage across rural, suburban and dense-urban areas. Murphy is accredited in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, with expertise in sustainable design practices. He’s a member of the American Institute of Architects and the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards.

Benjamin Wolk is a project manager and sustainability coordinator in Jackon | Main’s multi-family department. He earned his architect license in 2012. With a focus on sustainable design, he’s a Certified Passive House Consultant and Sustainable Homes Professional, emphasizing energy savings and the adoption of passive house principles across diverse project sectors. For more information, call 206.324.4800.

About the Author(s)

Robin Murphy

Owner and Principal, Jackson | Main Architecture

Robin Murphy is owner and principal of Jackson | Main Architecture, which has designed hundreds of self-storage facilities in rural, suburban and dense-urban areas. He’s a licensed architect in 15-plus states, with 24 years of experience in the self-storage industry. He’s a LEED-accredited professional, and member of the American Institute of Architects and the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. To reach him, call 206.324.4800.

Benjamin Wolk

Benjamin Wolk is a project manager and sustainability coordinator in Jackon | Main’s multi-family department. He earned his architect license in 2012. With a focus on sustainable design, he’s a Certified Passive House Consultant and Sustainable Homes Professional, emphasizing energy savings and the adoption of passive house principles across diverse project sectors. For more information, call 206.324.4800.

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