Not your average self-storage facility

From a street’s-eye view passing by on Highway 4A, Parksville’s Island Self-Storage looks like just any other U-store complex.

Teresa and Randy Marston stand in front of their new Island Self-Storage office and apartment complex

From a street’s-eye view passing by on Highway 4A, Parksville’s Island Self-Storage looks like just another of the seemingly ubiquitous such U-store complexes fronting the stretch from Parksville to Coombs.

But a closer examination of the large office building and the ranks of low-slung, cinder-block storage structures reveals something very different behind the scenes.

The south-facing roof of the main office structure — the one facing away from the highway — is completely covered by an array of solar panels. Additional solar “tracker” panels that tilt and swivel to follow the sun, will be installed at four of the storage buildings, and a rank of 10 power-generating windmills will stand in front of the property when ongoing construction is complete.

“I think you’re going to see this as the way of the future, whether you’re talking about cars, houses, or whatever you’re building,” said Randy Marston, who owns the business with his wife, Teresa. “Our goal here is to run it entirely on solar and wind power.”

Marston has been a builder for 23 years. He said the new Island Self Storage, which is replacing an existing storage business on the same property, is his third such business. He and his wife recently sold the most recent one, the Oceanside Storage complex which happens to reside next door to the new business.

Oceanside boasts eye-catching landscaping with rows of palm trees and a pond with fountains, but the Marstons are taking a somewhat different approach with Island Self Storage.

“We thought about another pond, but opted to go with some simple landscaping instead,” Randy said. “The pond looks nice, but it’s not very sustainable. They use a lot of water and it takes energy to run the fountains.”

What water Island Self Storage uses for irrigation, Marston said, will come from a catchment system with multiple underground tanks. Runoff from the roofs and paved areas will be directed through an oil filter and deposited into the tanks for use in irrigating the property.

Inside, the office is something of a showroom for some of Marston’s other work, in cabinetry and marble. Displays include a giant TV screen mounted above an electric fireplace, and several antique drink and snack vending machines.

The office also features wall-mounted, high-efficiency ductless heating units, but much of the energy efficiencies are out of sight.

“We had to figure everything out before we even started building,” said Marston, who consulted with a local solar and wind-energy specialist. “This building has one-foot (thick) walls, 16 inches of styrofoam under the floor, triple-pane windows and R70 insulation in the ceiling. “We want to use this building as a model.”

The mini storage units have undergone a similar green energy overhaul, starting with thicker sytrofoam under the floor and thicker doors, with weather stripping, to replace the thin metal roll-up doors common to self-storage sites, Marston said. Heat to the units will be provided by heat pumps that could slash the business’s heating costs to 25 per cent of their current level, he added.

When the business’s solar and wind turbine arrays are all installed and operational, the Marstons expect not only to provide for all their own energy needs with renewable energy, but to have enough left over to sell back to BC Hydro.

Why both solar and wind?

“The wind blows better here in the winter, but solar works better in the summer,” Marston said with a laugh. “We’re trying to cover both.”

They have so much faith in the new system, Marston said, that the couple sold their 10,000-square foot home at River’s Edge and have moved into the residence they built atop the Island Self Storage office.

“We’re looking forward to not having a Hydro bill,” he said.

But, he was quick to add, it’s not about the energy savings as much as it is about establishing a working model of sustainable building while continuing to beautify the industrial area as they started with their previous storage business next door.

“We’ve tried hard to support local businesses with this construction,” Marston said. “And part of our business model is to improve the neighbourhood, wherever we go.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19: City of Parksville announces gradual re-opening plan

Sports courts and playgrounds to open June 5

Search and rescue crews help locate 62-year-old Nanoose Bay mountain biker

RCMP: Man got lost on trail and did right thing by calling for assistance

RCMP: Parksville cyclist hurt after being clipped by passing vehicle

59-year-old man suffered minor injuries; driver failed to stop

COVID-19: RDN utility bills in the mail, deadline extended

Residents given until Sept. 8 to settle accounts

If Trudeau won’t stand up to Trump, how will regular people: Singh

Trudeau did not directly answer a question about Trump’s actions amid protests

VIDEO: Internal investigation into aggressive arrest by Kelowna Mountie

A video allegedly shows a Kelowna Mountie striking a man several times

Greater Victoria drive-thru window smashed after man receives burger without mustard

Greater Victoria Wendy’s staff call police after man allegedly rips Plexiglas barrier off window

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Woman fights off attacker while jogging in Port Alberni

RCMP look for witnesses of daytime incident

22 new COVID-19 test-positives, one death following days of low case counts in B.C.

Health officials urged British Columbians to ‘stand together while staying apart’

Murder charge upgraded in George Floyd case, 3 other cops charged

Floyd’s family and protesters have repeatedly called for criminal charges against all four officers

Feds get failing grade for lack of action plan on anniversary of MMIWG report

‘Instead of a National Action Plan, we have been left with a Lack-of-Action Plan’

John Horgan says COVID-19 restrictions won’t be eased regionally

B.C. Liberals urge ‘tailored’ response based on infections

Most Read