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Green Parking Council: A Roadmap of Sustainable Design

Sustainable urban design can take many forms, some of which are completely under our radar. To create a fully sustainable urban setting that not only doesn’t negatively impact the Earth, but adds value to it as well, we need to observe every point of contact we have within our built environment. From our roadways and transit systems, to our buildings and neighborhoods, as well as our food, water, and energy consumption; these are all elements of urban development that have sustainable solutions presently available.

One of the under-appreciated and often over-looked components of our built environment is our parking infrastructure. In high-density urban areas, parking is so commonplace and expected that it’s entirely unnoticed – because it’s right in front of us.

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It’s unlikely you’ve stopped to think about the impact a parking garage has on our urban ecosystem. The truth is however, thanks to the leadership and insights of a few who see things a little differently, we now know that the environmental impacts of parking can be drastically lowered. The Green Parking Council (GPC), based out of New Haven, CT sees tremendous opportunity in transforming typical concrete parking structures into breathing, beneficial, and positive contributors of sustainable urban design. As they see it, “Parking is about the spaces between people in motion” and it’s the people who will benefit from their design innovation.

Green Parking Council encourages traditional parking garages to deploy programs and technologies that limit vehicle idling, ensure clean air, and increase light quality and efficiency, bettering the health of all who are moving from one place to another.

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Elements of Green Parking

The solutions that the Green Parking Council offers to “rethink the nature of parking” are guided through their industry developed standard (think LEED but for parking), Green Garage Certification (GGC). Parking garages can become certified by deploying the various sustainability initiatives outlined by the GPC. Some of the many elements of green parking include:

  • Recycled, reusable, and eco-friendly construction materials
  • Employment of local labor in construction
  • Rainwater harvesting systems
  • Stormwater management systems
  • Bike share and car share options
  • EV charging stations
  • Innovation in design

The Green Garage Certification program organizes these and over forty other initiatives into three categories:

1. Management

The management component of the GGC program demonstrates how the operations of a parking garage can ensure the maximization of resources.

2. Programs

The programs component of GGC provides guidelines for parking garages to streamline the parking process and encourage alternative mobility solutions. Such opportunities include car and bike sharing which ultimately helps companies reach new markets and acquire and retain new customers.

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Underground parking garage at Post Office Square in Boston. Photo by Ed Wonsek, September 2012.

3. Technology and Structure Design

This category of the GGC program outlines ways to improve the physical attributes of the structure to increase operating efficiencies and enable sustainable patron programming.

The Future of Green Parking

Through technological innovation, GPC is utilizing the tools we have available to us today to their full potential. Green infrastructure and integrated vegetation technologies are also important options for improving the design of parking structures. Green roofs, living walls, and even rooftop community gardens are all ecological design possibilities that will further drive the mission of the Green Parking Council.

Thanks to the re-envisioning of parking lots, our cities can take one of the major contributors to poor urban health and transform them into constructive and valuable elements of our built environment.

About The Author

PowerHouse Growers
PowerHouse Growers teaches you how to sustainably integrate urban agriculture into your cities, businesses, and homes. We provide clear solutions and benefits for better health, increased productivity, and lower environmental impact. By connecting you with experts, we bring awareness to solutions that may not be top of mind.