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Big Yellow Self Storage

Preparing the roofs for solar panel systems


Big Yellow Self Storage is the UK’s favourite self storage company, providing secure and modern storage units for homes and businesses nationwide. Founded in 1998, their first location was in Richmond upon Thames and they now have a portfolio of over 100 storage facilities throughout the UK.

As a recognised market leader, they know they have a responsibility to set an excellent example to other businesses within the industry and the UK as a whole.

Big Yellow: Big on the environment

As one of the biggest national storage companies, Big Yellow recognises the importance of creating an environmentally friendly and sustainable business. This is reflected in its Corporate Social Responsibility agenda driven at the Board level, as well as the recent energy price inflation caused by the war in Ukraine.

Currently Big Yellow own 98% of its storage buildings and of these, 95% are run on clean energy. They’ve gradually been moving away from gas towards generating their electricity with rooftop solar PV panel systems, allowing them to greatly reduce their carbon footprint and generate their own energy.

“The result of operating responsibly is the social value that we create for our customers, employees, suppliers, communities and environment.”

Riaan Basson, National Projects/Facilities Manager at Big Yellow

The drive for Big Yellow to focus primarily on carbon offsetting and renewable power is down to a combination of their in-house expertise and renewable energy consultants, EvoEnergy, who help businesses save money, reduce emissions, and secure future energy generation for years to come.

Phase 1

Big Yellow had initially decided to install solar PV systems at two or three of its UK locations each year. Prior to the commencement of any solar panel installation, there were two things which had to be addressed; procuring the PV panels and ensuring that the intended roof was fit for solar.

When purchasing the solar PV systems, Big Yellow required a declaration from EvoEnergy that all system components were produced ethically and sustainably, in accordance with its Corporate Social Responsibility guidelines. As a result of this, they chose REC panels ethically manufactured in Singapore.

During Phase 1 of the project, Big Yellow worked alongside Hollis Global, real estate consultants, and Welbro, specialists in the refurbishment of industrial buildings. Hollis was responsible for the project management and successful installation of the PV system by EvoEnergy. After concluding the roofs were not fit for solar in their current condition, Hollis introduced Sharmans roof refurbishment systems to bring the roofs back up to standard.

The decision to re-roof, replace or refurbish

Firstly, re-roofing was considered, with the major benefit of a new roof being the warranty that would come with it. The solar PV systems installed at Big Yellow have a 25 year warranty, aligning this with the life expectancy/warranty of the roof would be crucial. However, this option was discounted due to the risk of water ingress damaging their customer assets during the re-roofing project and the lack of ‘green’ credentials and embodied carbon this would generate.

Over-sheeting was considered, again this option came with the benefit of extending the life expectancy of the roof. However, concerns were raised over the structural integrity of the building with the added weight of the additional roof. Not least when factoring in the possibility that over-sheeting could be needed again in another 20 – 25 years.

Finally, it was decided that roof refurbishment using Sharmans industry leading roof coatings would be the best course of action. Backed by a 25 year product guarantee, Delcote® 25 represented the most sustainable solution, with minimal extra weight added to the roof, compared to over-sheeting, eliminating issues on structural loading.

Why was Delcote® 25 the right solution?

  • A 25 year warranty aligns perfectly with the expected life span and warranty of the solar panel systems.
  • After 25 years, recoating the roof with Delcote® would be a simple task.
  • Replacing a roof incurs five times the amount of embodied carbon compared to using Sharmans roof refurbishment systems.

“Sharmans Technical Site Manager was key to the project. They were able to show where prior coatings had failed and gave ‘real world’ experience to offer a better solution.”

James Sprack, Managing Director, Welbro. 

Phase 2

During Phase 2 of the project, Big Yellow benefited from this being a combined effort as they received the full package: everything from the site survey to tendering was handled by a combination of Sharmans, EvoEnergy, Hollis Global and Welbro.

“A common challenge we face whilst planning a large scale project like this one is interfacing different teams and their timings however, we didn’t experience any time management issues within this particular project ”

– Stuart Sword, Director at Hollis Global.

A Sharmans representative conducted and produced a condition report at each site. It was decided that any roof with a life expectancy of 10 years or less would be treated with Delcote® in order to bring the roof back to the required standard. Due to the costs, time and lack of a guaranteed roof lifespan, patch repairs were immediately ruled out.


Measuring the success of the project

Big Yellow refurbished the roofs at over 10 locations using Delcote® 25, each of these roofs is now guaranteed to last for at least another 25 years. Upon completion of the installations, Big Yellow is one step closer to its goal of generating its own electricity, moving away from gas power and reducing its carbon footprint.

Due to the scale of the solar PV systems installed, coupled with the fact that Big Yellow sells around 65% of all the power generated back to the National Grid, it is expected that the PV panels will pay for themselves within 8 years.

Big Yellow is now aiming to install solar PV systems at fifteen to twenty sites per year using Sharmans refurbishment systems.

“From the offset, Sharmans demonstrated their technical expertise, excellent customer service and their ability to communicate effectively.”

– Riaan Basson, National Projects/Facilities Manager at Big Yellow.

Sharmans roof refurbishment systems

You can find more information on Sharmans roof refurbishment systems by visiting the dedicated page below. Alternatively, you can speak to an expert for information and advice.