Moving and temporarily storing your valuables can be a messy job, with the potential to create a lot of waste.  Guest Blogger, Art Decker is a division manager with Self Storage Company, which operates a group of websites, including a storagecalifornia.com, a California self-storage locator.  Art is currently leading a green initiative within his company, called ìMake Yourself Green, which is focused on promoting green practices within the self storage industry and he shares his Top 10 with us.

LEED certification and green technology are hot trends in self-storage right now. Below, I have listed what I believe are the 10 most ecofriendly self-storage facilities or self-storage development companies in the U.S. Most of the facilities on this list are or soon will be LEED certified by the U.S. Green Building Council.

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  • Castle & Cooke Self-storage, of Mililani Mauka, Hawaii. This facility (pictured above) is notable because its parent company, Castle & Cooke (which also develops residential communities) has built a large solar photovoltaic farm, and is also testing wind power energy sources. The company is working to have all of its facilities LEED certified, but its newest project in Mililani Mauka was designed from the start to be environmentally friendly.
  • iStoreGreen of Brooklyn, New York. iStoreGreen of New York City ís the first green self-storage company, as well as being the largest green business of any kind in New York City. It has been certified as green by Green-e. iStoreGreen gets all of its electricity from renewable sources, heats its hot water using solar energy, and uses excess heat in some parts of the facility to heat other parts of the building. When its building was remodeled, iStoreGreen saved reclaimed wood from the remodel and used that wood to build the facility’s benches, desks for company offices, and storage shelving. It sells biodegradable packing peanuts and other alternative packing materials to tenants, and provides them with recycling options, including donating usable goods to charity, and with an educational booklet about green living. iStoreGreen also plants a tree through the Nature Conservancy for each new tenant.

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  • Bellam Self-storage & Boxes, (above) of Marin County, California. Bellam Self-storage & Boxes is a Bay Area certified green business, the theme of which seems to be attention to detail. Bellam gets all of its electricity from solar panels on its roof, but also conserves electricity by putting all of its lights, inside and outside, on timers. It uses environmentally friendly paint, and both sells and uses a non-chemical cedar spray for repelling insects. The building has been constructed out of cement, with fiberglass insulation, and the roof has been coated with an insulating spray foam product, so the interior remains at a constant temperature year-round, without air conditioning. Bellam provides low flow toilets and sensor faucets in its tenant/customer restrooms, and uses only green cleaning supplies. Bellam’s landscaping uses drip irrigation and drought resistant plants, so minimal watering is needed. Its energy efficient office printers and computers are shut down at the close of business, and the thermostat is adjusted. Its copiers and printers do not use toner, instead relying on cartridges which can be recycled. Discarded paper is shredded and recycled as packing material, and Bellam sells its tenants boxes and other products that are made from recycled materials. Bellam prints its leases on letter size paper, not the legal size that is often used in the industry. It also coordinates its deliveries in order to minimize the number of trips made from warehouses.

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  • Professional Self-storage Management, (above) of Tucson, Arizona. Professional is a management company which has landscaped its self-storage sites with desert landscaping, minimizing water use and helping to conserve Tucsonís natural Sonoran Desert environment. It has also converted many of its non-self-storage-related stores, using motion-sensor lights indoors to reduce electricity use, and swapping out gas-powered golf carts for electric ones.
  • Security Self-storage, of Raleigh, North Carolina, began its commitment to the environment in 2008, before ecofriendly facilities became such a buzzword in the industry, and became the first green self-storage facility in North Carolina. It generates its electricity with solar panels mounted on poles (though many self-storage facilities mount solar panels directly on the roofs of storage units). Security’s seven Raleigh-area facilities are well designed to conserve energy, even featuring insulated garage doors. Lighting uses low wattage bulbs, recycling facilities are provided on site to tenants, and landscaping is done in ways that conserve wetlands and retain rainwater on-site in rain gardens rather than letting it drain off. Security also donates a percentage of its profits to local land conservation programs.

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  • ezStorage of Maryland, Virginia, and Washington D.C. The newest ezStorage facility (in Elkridge, Maryland) just opened two months ago, and its LEED certification is technically still pending. It is not ezStorage’s first LEED certified storage center — the company also has another facility operating in Charles Village. ezStorage (above) deserves special mention here because it has committed to making all of its future facilities green.
  • Grow Your Storage of Lufkin, Texas, and Colorado Springs, Colorado, also deserves special mention. Grow Your Storage is a developer and operator of self-storage facilities, and has made a strong commitment to the greening of the industry. Grow Your Storage is building a green self-storage facility, Northgate Self-storage, in Colorado Springs this summer. Northgate will not be completed until 2011. Northgate is notable for minimizing land use by building up rather than out, using a multistory building rather than a series of single story units. The facility will collect solar and wind energy, and will have twice as much insulation as a traditional self-storage facility, to reduce heat loss.
  • UNITS Mobile Storage, of Atlanta, Georgia. UNITS is a portable storage unit company. Its mobile storage containers are made with roofs that are bowed, allowing rainwater to run off naturally, and translucent, providing a natural source of light inside each unit (during the day).

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  • Safe and Secure Automated Self-storage, (above) of Broward County, Florida. This facility received a Green Building of America award from Real Estate & Construction Review magazine in 2009. It was also selected by Mini-Storage Messenger as its 2010 Outstanding Green Facility of the Year. Like many of the greenest self-storage facilities, it is brand new — just over a year old. And like many of the most energy efficient new self-storage facilities, Safe and Secure relies on automated storage and retrieval technology. That way, it is not necessary to have any lighting in the units, which saves a tremendous amount of energy, and the units can be pressurized when they are not occupied by humans, which reduces energy loss. This system saves so much energy that Safe and Secure uses less electricity than a typical self-storage facility even though it makes use of automated technology. Safe and Secure also uses green cleaning and pest control methods, has water-conserving landscaping around its exterior, has reduced waste production relative to comparable businesses, and has unusually good air quality for its staff.
  • Lakeville Self-storage, of Lakeville, Massachusetts. Lakeville deserves special mention because its unique air conditioning system uses geothermal cooling to cool its climate-controlled units. The facility pumps ordinary water from its well through pipes in the walls.

If you need self-storage and do not live near a green facility, take heart. Traditional self-storage facilities are made out of steel — which happens to be 90 percent recycled content. That means that most self-storage facilities are at least partially green — no matter what color they may appear to be on the outside!