Attendees learn parking matters at Greenbuild 2016

Trevyr Meade
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Last month, over 18,000 architects, engineers, property owners, developers and other sustainability professionals converged in Los Angeles for the annual Greenbuild International Conference and Expo. Greenbuild always presents an opportunity for professionals from all over the world to connect and learn, with a focus on the latest in sustainable building design, construction and operation.

More than 500 exhibitors shared the latest on a broad range of technologies, including porous asphalt, hydrogen vehicles, solar panels, efficient lighting and bicycle parking equipment. Sessions throughout the week touched every facet of the sustainability movement, from net zero energy to health to sustainable mobility to green cleaning.

Thanks to the hard work of many throughout the industry, parking took center stage at this year’s Greenbuild. The weeklong conference kicked off with a half-day training on Parksmart.

“It was wonderful to see such excitement around green parking at the conference,” said Rachel Yoka, Vice President of Program Development at the International Parking Institute, who delivered the training. “We had a number of sustainability professionals from both the U.S. and abroad attend our training. They were eager to learn how to increase efficiencies and lower the environmental impact of garage design and operation.”

The conference also included a celebration of the 2016 Lighting Energy Efficiency in Parking (LEEP) Campaign awards, which recognize real estate owners who have achieved exceptional performance in parking facility energy reduction through high-efficiency lighting and controls. The 2016 LEEP campaign participants and award winners added nearly 65 million square feet of additional high-performance lighting in parking facilities, and achieved an estimated 60 percent in energy savings compared to existing or baseline numbers.

“Through the LEEP Campaign, we’ve recognized over 550 million square feet of parking space for its transition to energy efficient lighting,” said Paul Wessel, Director of Market Development for USGBC. “That represents $14 million in energy savings for participants annually. We enjoyed celebrating this success at Greenbuild with our 2016 award winners, which included Kimco Realty, MGM Resorts, CBRE and 13 others.”

In addition to these events, a booth on the expo floor allowed the Parksmart team to directly connect with hundreds of decision makers in the real estate industry. “In creating Parksmart, we came together to develop a tool for transforming our industry,” explained John Schmid, CEO of Propark and the visionary behind Parksmart. “At Greenbuild, I had the opportunity to speak with hundreds of architects, engineers, consultants, contractors and property owners on the expo floor and learn that, like us, they are seeking to bring sustainability to the parking they design, build or own. The conference was an amazing platform for educating the larger green building community about the opportunities that lie in the garage.”

An initiative to identify synergies between Parksmart, LEED and the other sustainability rating systems was also highlighted at the conference. GBCI and USGBC are developing a solution that will allow projects on the same site to seamlessly achieve certification points across a number of rating systems simultaneously, including Parksmart. “This is the next step in Parksmart’s integration to the USGBC family,” said Paul Wessel. “Parksmart will not only be linked to LEED and the other rating systems conceptually; we are creating programmatic links as well.”

The week concluded with a thoughtful panel discussion on the future of the parking garage. “Technology is evolving rapidly,” said Gary Neff, CEO of Park Assist, who participated in the panel. “It is already changing how we price parking, receive payments and identify parkers. As we move closer to autonomous vehicles, we will see the rate of change accelerate. Further integrating with the real estate and transportation communities, as we have done at this year’s Greenbuild, will grow in importance as we work to cope with the technological advances reshaping our industry.”

This year’s Greenbuild was a tremendous opportunity for the parking industry to share our collective sustainability work with the greater green building movement. It has pushed us into 2017 with strong momentum that we look forward to building in the coming months.