Green building using sustainable resources to decrease the human footprint upon the Earth has been going on since steel became a favored construction material. Sometimes, you just need to remind everyone of that… especially when humans need more space to put their stuff.
Self-storage facilities are proliferating, and many of them are built of steel, making them very green indeed.
Steel is sustainable
Steel is one of the most sustainable building materials in the world. Not only is it 100% recyclable, a significant portion of steel is made from recycled material. Nearly every piece of steel that now exists contains recycled steel content and remains as strong as ever.
The industry has made other improvements as well. Since the 1990s, it has reduced the amount of energy required to produce a ton of steel by a third. Over 95% of the water used in steel production is recycled and returned, often cleaner than before.
- Steel is durable. It doesn’t rot or mold, and critters won’t chew on it. Steel used for framing can last from hundreds to over a thousand years due to its zinc coating. It is resistant to fire, high winds, heavy snow, seismic activity, and almost anything else Mother Nature can throw at it.
- Steel is strong yet light. Less steel is required to carry the same loads as concrete, masonry, or wood, decreasing the weight and volume of material used. Steel does not split, creep, or warp; and a steel frame reduces cracking and fastener pops in drywall and other finishes.
- Steel is cost-efficient. Because it is durable and resistant to damage, insurance premiums are lower. Maintenance and repair are needed less frequently. A steel frame is easily insulated, both walls and roof, saving on energy costs year ‘round.
- Steel is versatile. It can be designed into any shape or texture with any color or finish you need.
Green building standards
As the green movement continues to grow, major green building standards and ratings programs have been initiated or updated to include standards for sustainability, including:
- The National Green Building Standard for Residential Buildings (ICC-700)
- ASHRAE Standard 189.1 for Commercial Construction
- The US Green Building Council’s LEED programs for all building types
Most green codes and standards recognize the potential in cold-formed steel in reducing jobsite construction waste, encouraging wide-spread pre-engineered and assembled panels manufactured off-site.
As an example, a 2,000 square foot residential home constructed with a wood frame will generate about 20% of waste material that then goes to the landfill. By comparison, the same home built with steel framing generates less than 2% waste, which will then go, not to a landfill, but to be recycled.
In fact, more than 82 million tons of steel has been recycled in the US since 2008; more than aluminum, glass, and paper combined. Recycled steel becomes studs, joists, and other members. It is the only material with an automatic minimum default value for recycled content in the LEED program.
Your green self-storage facility
In order to get a LEED rating or other green rating, the materials your self-storage buildings are constructed from must be examined for recycled content and the recovery rate. Steel easily passes the tests; North American countries have been incorporating old steel into new for over 170 years.
The reason we can do this is that steel retains all of its strength when it is recycled. It is the only building material that you can say this about. Recycling steel is made even easier due to its magnetic properties. Electromagnets are used in landfills and recycling sites to remove everything from appliances to ships from the waste stream easily and economically.
If you choose a pre-fabricated steel building systems for your self-storage facility, you go even greener. A pre-fabricated metal building is designed and developed within a manufacturing facility. Once the kit is delivered to your building site, the crew just needs to put it together. There will be little to no steel waste from construction. Additionally, your labor costs will be lower because it takes less time to put the buildings up. All you need is a simple foundation.
There’s more to a green metal self-storage facility than the frame and panels. A steel frame is extremely easy to insulate. If you plan to offer climate controlled units, steel will make this possible. Steel frames are well formed to accept insulating batting as well as loose insulation blown in place after the inner wall or ceiling is in place.
The main facility office will benefit from insulation as well. In both areas, heating and cooling costs will be reduced because the indoor environment is kept stable. It heats up slower in summer and loses heat more slowly in winter. You will save on utilities, and your customers will appreciate the environmental stability for their belongings in storage.
Since a metal building is so easily insulated, you could consider light insulation for the non-climate controlled units.
Steel buildings have another benefit; a steel roof, especially a standing seam roof, is perfectly formed for today’s solar panels. The latest panels are extremely flat; some are flexible. Even older model solar panels can be affixed to the parts of the roof with the most appropriate exposure. This nets even more savings on electricity.
The bottom line rules in construction, doesn’t it? So it makes sense to find ways to reduce the red even as you go green.
Pre-engineered high-grade steel buildings are economical to construct. Each building is designed to your specifications and to pass all current local building codes. If you are aiming for a green certification such as LEED, a steel building earns you points right off the bat.
The plans include letters of certification and engineer stamps.
Everything arrives already cut, welded, drilled, and marked for quick assembly, lowering payroll and builder’s risk insurance.
Add to all this your ability to select the configuration, color, texture, type of roof, and to have everything completely customized. It’s all part of the package.
We see a green steel self-storage facility in your future. Do you?