We actively work to protect the environment while simultaneously improving the resiliency of our portfolio and making our operations more cost effective. Environmental efficiency in our building design and operations is important to our company, our stakeholders and our customers.
Life Storage is a silver member of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC®). The USGBC® developed the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating system. LEED provides the framework to create healthy, highly efficient, and cost-saving green buildings. This membership offers educational courses for our operations and construction management staff to keep them informed on the latest green building practices. Currently, 25% of the Expansion and Development team are LEED accredited.
Sustainable Construction & Design
We believe that sustainable construction and design are integral to a resilient portfolio of properties. All facilities in the Life Storage portfolio must meet a rigorous set of internally developed energy efficiency guidelines. In addition, we are constantly identifying new, cost-effective opportunities to reduce our environmental impacts.
All Life Storage roofing projects must use cool roof technologies, including aluminum-zinc alloy coatings on standing seam metal roofs, white or grey reflective coatings, and polyurethane foam roof systems. These cool roof technologies reduce energy consumption by minimizing air conditioning needs.
- In 2019, Life Storage completed 55 cool roofing projects (1,470,498 SF).
Per Life Storage design guidelines, LED lights are mandatory for all new buildings and light fixture replacements. We install motion sensors at our facilities and corporate headquarters to reduce energy consumption. Life Storage signs operate on astronomical timers, limiting illumination based on regional sunrise and sunset.
- Since 2012, we have invested over $5,000,000 in energy efficient lighting
- In 2019, we upgraded 22,085 light fixtures to LED, resulting in an estimated savings of 1,600,000 kWh annually
- *Estimation based on data from our third-party vendors and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator
Heating & Cooling
New central air conditioning systems must be high-efficiency models that meet the minimum EER 11.5 or SEER 14 as outlined in our specifications guide. Likewise, newly installed heaters have at least a 92% efficiency rating. Temperature range is set between 55-80 degrees to find a balance between energy efficiency and customer comfort.
- Since 2012, we have invested over $16,000,000 in energy efficient HVAC upgrades
- In 2019, units at 15% of our portfolio were replaced with high-efficiency models
We are constantly assessing our portfolio for opportunities to expand our renewable energy program as a part of our strategy to reduce our carbon footprint. We are also consistently exploring the viability of new and innovative renewable energy sources for our properties, including wind turbine and geothermal energy. In 2019, Life Storage implemented a centralized solar monitoring platform to quickly identify underperforming solar arrays to protect our solar investment and optimize self-produced energy.
- Since 2011, we have invested over $10,000,000 in solar array installations and upgrades
- 45 solar arrays on 32 properties generating 15 GWh to date
- This GHG emissions reduction is comparable to removing 2,252 cars from the road annually
Self-storage facilities typically have low rates of water consumption and production of wastewater. Even still, we do what we can to reduce the consumption that does occur at our facilities. Life Storage facilities require native planting or xeriscape landscaping, reducing the need for irrigation and minimizing the use of pesticides and fertilizers.
Recycling & Waste Reduction
We seek to reduce our waste output as much as possible. At home office, all employees are provided reusable water bottles, mugs, and silverware. This reduces the disposal of single-use items such as cups and plastic utensils. We encourage all Life Storage team members at every level to recycle whenever possible.
We integrate sustainability into the day-to-day operations of all Life Storage facilities. Highlights include:
- Regular assessment of our portfolio's vulnerability to climate change-related risks:
- Only two of our wholly owned stores are below sea level, representing just 0.36% of our portfolio
- Availability of lower-environmental impact packing materials:
- Boxes made from approximately 45% recycled content, certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative
- Locks made of 100% recycled material
- *Estimation from third-party vendors
- Significant reduction of the use of paper documents, such as customer leases, communications and contractor proposals, and employee processes, through more efficient technology platforms:
- Average per-store paper consumption decreased 38% from 2018 to 2019
- Despite the 22% growth in the number of stores, our gross paper expense shrank by approximately 12.5% per store
- *Calculation based on estimated data from third-party vendors
- Extensive, cloud-based 99-point check of all utility bills to identify damaged and underperforming HVAC units, assess the integrity and energy performance of our exterior building shell, and other leaks or energy wastes
- Evaluation of vendors & suppliers considers sustainable practices and product offerings
Climate Change Awareness
Life Storage takes seriously the risk of climate change. That is why we are committed to monitoring and mitigating the risks to our assets, as well as to reducing our emissions. Life Storage is in the process of adopting the guidance of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), weighing climate change risks across four key areas:
Ultimate oversight for sustainability and climate-related topics lies with the Board of Directors. Our Environmental, Social and Governance Committee, which is led by our Senior Vice President of Strategic Planning and Investor Relations and reports to our Chief Executive Officer, is in charge of assessing and addressing climate-related business risks and opportunities.
We closely monitor the impact of our portfolio and energy efficiency. Further, we continuously invest in renewable energy and track our clean energy generation. One of the primary 2020 goals of our Environmental, Social and Governance Committee is to establish internal standards by which to assess climate-related risks and opportunities.
The primary risk we face from climate change is physical risk from extreme weather. We do evaluate the business opportunity from renewable energy incentives and the falling price of renewables to install renewable energy at our facilities. As we use minimal energy and water, direct or indirect regulatory and resource availability issues are not significant concerns for current or future operations.
- Risk Management
At an enterprise level, risks including those related to climate and other environmental and resource-related risks (e.g. energy, climate, water, infrastructure) are within the scope of the relevant environmental and construction teams. These risks include those related to the physical, economic, and business continuity impacts that could arise as a result of climate change. As discussed in our Environmental section, we have taken a number of steps to minimize our energy and water usage, as well as consider physical risks in our construction process.