It takes a lot of dedication and resolution to decide to “go green” when building a new self storage facility. The ultimate prize is to become LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified through the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) which outlines strict criteria for builders to follow. And while the up-front price tag will be five to ten percent higher to build a sustainable, LEED-certified structure, the building’s functional life expectancy is longer and long-term costs are less.
Recently, Lee Frederick, a self-storage developer and owner of Grow Your Own Storage LLC, decided to create a green-certified self storage facility in Colorado Springs, Colo. After successfully building and operating seven facilities in Texas, Frederick moved on to Colorado where he found a dynamic site to develop.
“When you spend as much time and capital as we did in the pursuit process, it only makes sense to take a little extra effort to build an exceptional facility,” he said. “We wanted to create the best opportunity for success, and we chose to distinguish this project in all areas—location, appearance, amenities and design.”
The construction loan took nearly two years to develop and during that time Frederick studied to become LEED AP (Accredited Professional) through the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI). This eliminated the need to pay for third parties to help meet the certification and Frederick acted as his own LEED administrator, overseeing all documentation and saving money in the process.
Under the name of Northgate Self Storage in Colorado Springs, the 675-unit is comprised of four stories of climate-controlled units with video-surveillance, keypad-controlled access and elevators. Frederick will earn a gold rating on the structure with both exterior and interior components meeting stringent specifications.
The building also incorporates significant, innovative electrical engineering. The electrical service for HVAC, lights and plugs are all on separate panels that are individually monitored and tracked. “We will know when our electric demand increases and can make adjustments accordingly,” Fredrick said. For instance, air-conditioning use can be increased during non-peak hours, saving money and reducing peak demand on the grid.
At Northgate, high indoor-air quality is another factor leading to LEED certification. The HVAC system is designed to provide ventilation that exceeds a typical system by at least 30 percent. The indoor-air-quality plan also involves flushing out the air in the building over a 45-day period post-construction. “The use of low-emitting materials contributes to the high quality of the office and storage space of our building,” Fredrick said.
Although there is a higher cost to invest in going green, consumers have proven they are willing to pay more for green products and services.
“Prospective self-storage customers have easy access to price and amenity comparisons when shopping for a storage facility. They want the most for what they’re willing to pay,” Fredrick said
And despite the increased costs to build the facility and the green advantages it comes with, Northgate’s rent rates are in line with other facilities in the area. “At a comparable price point, we’ll show them the features and benefits of storing in a green building, to which most of our customers are favorably disposed. The LEED certification is the final point of distinction between us and any other facility,” Fredrick said.
Campbell, Amy. “Green in Action: Northgate Self Storage in Colorado Springs Achieves LEED Certification and Much More.” Inside Self-Storage. July 17, 2011.
Hsiu, Winnie. “Self Storage Facility Construction and Modification Show More Companies Are Thinking Green and Saving on Energy Costs.” Self Storage Industry News. Feb. 8, 2011.