Sustainable parking structures join the built community

Sarah Stanley
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This article was originally published in June 2018 as "Certifiably Parked: Sustainable Parking Structures Join the Built Community," by Jeff Gavin, for Electrical Contractor. Read the full article.

Parksmart (formerly Green Garage Certification) is the world’s only rating system recognizing high-performance, sustainable garages. The nascent voluntary certification program was initially conceived in 2014 by the International Parking Institute, the world’s largest parking association, and the Green Parking Council. Parksmart today is affiliated with USGBC and administered by GBCI.

“The parking industry is discovering how to leverage garages so they play a more sustainable role in a community’s mobility and transportation,” said Paul Wessel, director, Parksmart. “An infrastructure that promotes increased use of mass transit, is pedestrian-friendly and supports alternative energy vehicles and ride-sharing, are planning goals that can intersect with green parking structures.”

As of March 2018, 95 new and existing Parksmart projects (registered or certified) exist in 22 U.S. states and five countries, totaling nearly 132,000 parking spaces. Of the certified projects, Wessel estimated one quarter are new construction.

Parksmart was designed, in part, to highlight methods for lowering garage energy usage through lighting, ventilation, controls and requisite commissioning. Certified garages have averaged up to a 25 percent reduction in their operational costs compared to the national average. Parksmart structures can feature thoughtful siting and design that conserves energy and water. A Parksmart garage might also use fewer and greener construction materials.

“In new construction, we’ve also found Parksmart gets the architect, engineer and the design team together early in the project, including an owner’s sustainability teams, to engage in a more thoughtful, holistic discussion of the structure near term and into the future,” Wessel said.

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