Smart Storage = Sustainable Storage

By Stuffey | January 8, 2020

During the planning stages of a new building design, the team working the project has many concerns to balance. While basic programming needs must be met within a defined budget, hundreds of other considerations work together to create objectives that begin to inform the building design, such as plans for future expansion, code requirements, site or contextual implications, goals of the building owner and so on. One item of increasing importance is that of sustainability. Sustainable design, or green design as it is sometimes described, has really been brought to the forefront of design discussions in the last ten years with efforts by the USGBC and AIA.

Sustainable design seeks to improve building performance by reducing negative impacts on the environment as well as the health and comfort of building occupants. Through a series of goals that include optimizing site potential, energy use, building space and material use, the design team can develop a structure that is environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout its life cycle. While some green design measures are common sense, such as siting a building to take advantage of solar rays and prevailing winds, other factors that can help achieve sustainability goals may not be so apparent. For instance, have you considered how the design of storage spaces within a facility can help achieve a more sustainable building?

sustainable design

Storage is often an overlooked opportunity to reduce the building footprint, which in turn helps with site optimization and reducing energy needs, especially where storage is a major function of a facility such as libraries, museums and warehouses. When you think about conventional storage and stationary shelving, a large amount of space is wasted as circulation because of multiple aisles. If you consider the same layout on a high-density mobile system, the same storage capacity can be achieved in about half of the floor space. This reduced footprint creates less site disturbance and reduces the energy demand as there is less space to be conditioned. The William J. Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Arkansas, is one notable building that used storage to help with sustainable design goals. 7.6 miles of powered high-density mobile shelving house the complete collection of Bill Clinton’s presidency. The result was a 17,000 SF reduction in the storage footprint of the building! The Addlestone Library at the College of Charleston found that using a high-density mobile system saved about 4,000 SF in the design of their new building, as well as increased the building capacity for future collections growth two to two and a half times that of the same footprint with stationary shelving!!

Reduced footprint which directly affects site disturbance and energy usage is just one way a high-density system can help a building to be more sustainable. Such a system can create more storage in a space that is perhaps landlocked in an existing facility, maintaining existing walls and other construction. Automatic overhead aisle lighting can be programmed to turn on with aisle use and to automatically turn off after a set time of inactivity. And, these systems typically have a very high recycled content value.

Sustainable design is smart design. Sometimes you aren’t reducing the building footprint or energy usage, but rather planning ahead for the changing needs of a space. Millwork is static construction, and static is not long-term sustainable. When a space demands flexibility or change, millwork is generally torn out and thrown in a landfill. The investment that was made in the millwork is lost. This is poor usage of both finances and materials. However, manufactured modular casework allows for growth, change, and reconfiguration – all while protecting your investment. Using pin and cam assembly, manufactured modular caseworkallows for cabinets to reconfigured or relocated. If the function of a space demands a change in type for some of the cabinets in that space, no problem. One or multiple cabinets can be easily swapped out for new designs. With a limited lifetime warranty, GREENGUARD Children & Schools Certified, manufactured modular casework is not only sustainable, but is also smart use of your money.

These are just a few of the innovative ways storage impacts sustainability goals. Designers and storage experts, like the team at P2, are constantly developing new, innovative ways for storage to improve building performance. When planning your next project, think about how storage can impact key sustainability goals. Don’t overlook opportunities to save energy, resources and money!

New call-to-action



About Stuffey

To say that Stuffey was made for this role would be an understatement. A life long hoarder, Stuffey understands how the Laws of Stuff can wreak havoc in the real world of an organization’s space. Now as part of his reformation, he is committed to passing on to you his secrets in our battle against the tyranny of STUFF.

See more posts by Stuffey