The CBU (Cluster Box Unit) is the preferred mail solution for apartments, mobile home communities, cul–de–sacs, and new developments where individual mail delivery is difficult or unfavorable.These all–in–one CBU mailboxes provide postal carriers a central location for mail collection and delivery.
The very first use of CBU’s occurred in 1967 as the growing United States Postal Service (USPS) began using them to help increase the speed of mail delivery by reducing the number of mail stops between deliveries.
Since 1967, the cluster box unit has evolved from plastic to steel to aluminum and has been through many feature refinements. For instance, the first locking feature didn’t appear until 2001. Back in 2001, these CBU’s were called NDCBU or Neighborhood Delivery Collection Box Units but today the NDCBU is no longer acceptable for new installations.
Today, the USPS-Approved CBU is commonly called the “F series”. This F series cluster box unit was a design innovation of Florence Manufacturing and in 2007, the Florence Manufacturing CBU became the USPS design standard for all commercial mailbox manufacturers. The F Series CBU mailbox features multiple compartments for residents and also features a parcel locker and outgoing mail slot for the convenience of the residents who utilize cluster mailboxes. They also come in a variety of attractive colors.
Today, many cities are requiring that all neighborhoods install centralized mail delivery equipment like the CBU. Centralized mail delivery is a unique form of mail delivery system where a mail carrier delivers to one central location for many houses, opposed to conventional delivery methods that involved door–to–door delivery. The most common use of centralized mail delivery comes in the use of these cluster box units.
Over the years, cluster box units have developed into myriad forms and configurations that allow 8, 12, 13, or 16 units per centralized mail box unit. The CBU mailbox allows the mail carrier to use a special key to open the entire unit from either the front (front loading cluster box unit) or the rear (rear loading cluster mailbox unit). Once the postal delivery door is opened, the postal carrier picks up mail that the homeowners drop into a common secured slot and then load incoming mail into each individual unit.
Once the mail is delivered, the postal carrier relocks the unit so that each homeowner or recipient can only access their particular box using their assigned, unique key. Because each resident has a key to their own mailbox, the CBU mailbox is one of the most secure and safe mailboxes on the market.
CBU’s can be free–standing (commonly called pedestal-mounted) or placed in a kiosk or outdoor shelter or even onto a wall. The advantages to pedestal mounted CBU’s are that can be placed anywhere convenient to both the postal carrier and the residents or even onto a wall, depending on the facility. For neighborhoods that want to “dress up” their CBU, there are very attractive decorative kits that bring a sense of distinction and style to the CBU.
While any “clustered” style of mailboxes can be utilized, the cluster box units are the most common equipment used for centralized mail delivery. It is, however, important that whatever equipment is installed that the units are STD–4C compliant (which mean the equipment meets USPS design and installation regulations).
If you are renovating a structure, the USPS requires new STD–4C mailboxes to be used. If the rough structure of a wall is not disturbed, older replacement styles of mailboxes may be used. Currently, the only approved USPS manufacturers of CBU mailboxes are: 2BGlobal, Florence Manufacturing Company (formerly Auth Florence Manufacturing Company), Jensen Mailboxes, Postal Products Unlimited, Salsbury Industries and Security Manufacturing.
While centralized mail delivery is the preferred method of delivery by the United States Postal Service for new developments, some residents of new communities have a difficult time making the change from door to door delivery to the new centralized units. They simply prefer the convenience of not having to walk a few hundred feet to pick up their mail. After a few months of use though, most residents discover they enjoy the times when they end up meeting neighbors and getting to know those who live nearby. The CBU becomes the equivalent of the office water cooler in your neighborhood.
Written By Robert Urgo