Extra Space Storage, the second largest operator of self storage companies in the United States with over 850 facilities in 34 states, has embarked on a solar initiative that is the first of its kind in the self storage industry.
Led by Brent Hardy, Vice President of National Facilities for Extra Space Storage, the initiative will install 100,000 solar panels in facilities across the country over the next five years at the rate of 20,000 panels per year.
The company will convert between 25 and 30 facilities in the North East part of the country over to solar energy by the end of 2011. Five have already been completed while another nine are expected to be done by the end of August.
In a recent interview, Mr. Hardy stated that he began looking into using solar energy in some of the companies many self storage facilities about four years ago for two reasons, social and fiscal responsibility.
“Everyone has the ability to affect change,” Hardy said.
As the person in charge of making sure that the company’s many facilities have what they need to operate, he wanted to try to cut down on the overall expense of running the facilities. At the time, one of the largest expenses was electricity ($14 million annually). However, he did not just want to cut costs; he also wanted to reduce the environmental impact facilities left on the community.
The problem then was the overall cost of solar panels. The return on investment was projected to be from 12-16 years, which is a long time regardless of the positive impact on the environment. Thanks to various programs at the federal, state and local level, the ROI has been significantly reduced.
Once the panels are installed, they are expected to pump out 6.1 million kilo-watt/hours. That is enough energy to keep 7,000 light bulbs lit around the clock for a full year. Since it is also clean power it is like saving close to 1,000 fir trees and keeping 835 cars off the road.
The energy output would take coal plants over 2,400 tons of coal to produce, but would also create close to 6,500 tons of carbon dioxide and almost 35,000 pounds of acid rain (sulfur dioxide).
That is what Extra Space Storage will be taking out of the environment by installing 20,000 solar panels in 2011. As they install more in the years to come, the positive impact the company will have on the environment will continue to grow.
Information on Extra Space Storage’s solar initiative can be found on the company’s website at http://www.extraspace.com/infographics/solarpower/.
“Solar Savings: A Solar Innovation Story.” Self Storage Industry News; 28 July 2011.
Interview with Brent Hardy; 27 July 2011.