With consumers becoming more aware of their environmental impacts, it is undeniable that creating a facility with an emphasis on sustainability and environmentally friendly features is attractive to potential customers.
Self Storage sustainability and environmental impact
The self storage industry is increasingly becoming a crowded market, which means businesses will have to continue to provide more appealing perks that set them apart from their competitors. With consumers becoming more aware of their environmental impacts, it is undeniable that creating a facility with an emphasis on sustainability and environmentally friendly features is attractive to potential customers. Whether starting a new storage business or having been in the industry for years, there are small yet very impactful changes you can implement that will make your storage business more sustainable and improve its impact on the environment.
1. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
This old adage still holds true even when it comes to running a self storage company. When it comes to reducing, try reducing the amount of paper that’s used in the office, or implement more energy-efficient lights. Try to reuse paper for other purposes, and not grabbing a blank sheet for smaller note-taking tasks. For recycling, make it clear to your customers how their waste should be separated and if you want to take it further, you can also host clothing and other used items collection bins at your facility, letting your customers donate their older clothes, while also helping the community and showing your company is committed to sustainability.
2. Sustainable design
A bigger picture solution is to look towards your storage units themselves. With units that have been in operation for a while, chances are that there are multiple ways to improve their sustainability and energy efficiency. If you’re looking to remodel an existing unit or build a new one, consider partnering with a LEED(US) or BREEAM(UK)-accredited contractor. Both LEED and BREEAM are green building certifications that are designed to build structures that are energy-efficient and use low-energy lighting, but without compromising on a high-quality, modern HVAC system. They will also have better air quality, water conservation systems, and use sustainable building materials whenever possible. Buildings with these certifications are also more affordable to operate on an ongoing basis, meaning that your business can cut costs and also reduce your negative environmental impact while the build-out and equipment costs can be capitalized over a number of years.
3. Managing electricity
As mentioned earlier, retrofitting energy-efficient lights is a great way to reduce electricity consumption at your facility. Taking a step back, simpler things like making sure lights and other appliances are turned off when not actively in use can make a huge difference if done consistently. If you want to go a step further, consider fitting larger lights with a motion sensor, so they either dim or turn off completely when there’s no activity. While installing LED lights or sensor switches might seem tedious on the surface, they will be much cheaper to run and maintain in the long-run.
4. Solar Panels
Most self-storage sites tend to have plenty of roof space, making them a perfect candidate for solar panels. Many storage facility owners in sunny climates are choosing to build solar panels, as they get a great return on investment and also are able to power much of their facility with renewable energy. Similar to retrofitting lights, the initial cost for solar panels may be high, but they are more than worth it in the long run, with many governments offering incentives to businesses that use solar energy. On top of your electricity savings, for the times where you are generating more power than you need, you may even be able to sell this excess power back into the grid.
5. Better packaging
Packaging waste is an inevitability when running a self storage business. Big storage companies like Safestore have long committed to focusing on reusable and biodegradable packaging, and their customers have responded extremely positively to their ‘Box for Life’ initiative. Their cardboard boxes, which are already made from recycled materials, are available to replace free of charge after they’ve worn out, to be recycled all over again. If supplying sustainable cardboard or bubble wrap is too expensive, consider selling or giving away older boxes that tenants no longer need to local businesses, thereby reducing packaging waste and demand for new packaging.
6. Going paperless
Last but not least, shifting towards offering more of your services online will reduce your businesses’ paper waste significantly. An easy way to implement this is to use e-signatures, and also to store documents for the office and customers online. Cloud-based storage is easier to use and more secure than keeping loose papers in a filing cabinet anyway. Especially in the age of smartphones and laptops, it makes it all that easier to transition to a paperless way of doing business, with software like Storeganise letting you plan and coordinate with your clients directly online, no paper involved.
Conclusion & subsidies
All these methods are simple and easy ways to reduce your business's impact on the environment. These actions will not only help the environment and in many cases reduce your running costs but you may also be able to get a significant amount of the upfront costs covered by government subsidies. Look online or discuss with your accountants to see if there are government programs you can take advantage of.
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