By the CubeSmart Team and ISS
Hundreds of self-storage facilities across the globe have embraced clean energy, adding swaths of solar panels across their rooftops. However, few have achieved the even loftier goal of becoming a “net-zero energy” property. Simply put, this means a building generates enough energy to meet or even exceed its own utility needs. It’s a complicated feat, especially for a climate-controlled building. Yet some storage operators are setting the eco-friendly bar ever higher to achieve this aim.
In March, Illinois-based real estate investment firm Farragut Investments Inc. achieved net-zero status with its newly opened facility in Austin, Texas. The property incorporates a variety of energy-conserving features, including LED lighting and solar panels. Branded and managed by real estate investment trust CubeSmart, the project at 6130 E. Ben White Blvd. is the first net-zero storage site in the city.
At Work With Austin
Farragut chose to build its project in Austin because the city provides a uniquely positive atmosphere for the construction of an eco-friendly building, between its steady population growth and natural inclination toward green initiatives. The developer worked closely with the Austin Energy Green Building (AEGB) sustainable-building program to incorporate innovative energy, material-conservation and water strategies that will minimize the facility’s environmental impact. Farragut is currently working with AEGB to achieve a four-star rating.
The project is also subscribed to Austin Energy’s GreenChoice Program, which ensures that if the site needs to purchase additional power, the utility will provide 100 percent Texas wind-generated energy rather than fossil fuel-generated power. The program supports Texas-sourced energy and local jobs, and allows the facility to support Austin’s renewable-energy goals.
“We’ve worked diligently to ensure our facility is a positive addition to Austin by providing efficient features that serve the local community in many ways,” says Robert Ruggles, vice president of development for Farragut. “Every inch of this project, from energy management to the preservation of green space for conservation, natural resources, native trees, and landscaping, has been designed to give back to Austin and the environment.”
Opened on March 22 after a year of construction, the three-story CubeSmart facility comprises 77,000 square feet of storage space in 575 climate-controlled units. Plans are underway to build a second climate-controlled structure encompassing 33,000 square feet, slated to be complete next year.
The building’s green features include:
- A solar-photovoltaic array that includes 314 panels
- Geothermal heating and cooling
- A half-acre of open space that serves as a conservation area
- Three rainwater towers
- LED lighting
- High-performance insulation
- A regenerative drive elevator, which generates electricity from elevator movement
- An energy-saving roof coating
- High-performance glass
All of these elements combine to achieve a net-zero energy result. Initially, the property will actually be energy-positive, meaning it will produce more energy than it consumes, until the second building is constructed.
In addition to its energy-efficient features, the facility features keypad entry, perimeter fencing, security monitoring and high-definition video cameras. It’s also carpeted to “enhance the customer experience.”
While it was difficult to achieve balance between power generation and consumption, many strategies were applied to achieve this goal. “This building is a valuable addition to our third-party management program and our Austin self-storage portfolio,” said Guy Middlebrooks, vice president of third-party management for CubeSmart. “This state-of-the-art facility allows us to serve environmentally conscious Austin customers with a convenient location that’s easily accessible to most downtown and South and East Austin residents.”
CubeSmart is a self-storage real estate investment trust that owns or manages 703 self-storage facilities across the United States, including 20 in the Austin area. Its operating portfolio comprises more than 44.8 million square feet. The company also provides third-party management services. For more information, visit www.cubesmart.com.
Farragut is a privately owned company that invests in real estate and other alternative investments on behalf of firm principals and a group of long-standing investment partners. The company’s principals have been involved in 87 transactions worth $8 billion since the firm was founded in 1980.