Talk to enough corporate real estate decision-makers and, no matter what type of project is at hand, one issue consistently bubbles to the surface: parking.
Those same practitioners also are dealing with another nettlesome but necessary constant: sustainability mandates from their boards.
So it was only a matter of time before the two themes merged and gave birth to the Green Garage Certification, launched this year and delivered and promoted globally by Green Business Certification, Inc., the certification body for the U.S. Green Building Council's global LEED® green building rating system. On July 1, the Las Vegas-based Green Parking Council (GPC) announced the first seven parking facilities in the US to achieve that certification.
Nationwide, building owners spend more than $16 billion annually to light their parking lots and garages.
"Cars are getting smarter, people are getting smarter, and parking garages are getting smarter," said Paul Wessel, executive director of the GPC, an affiliate of the International Parking Institute. "The greening of parking facilities transforms them into enablers of sustainable mobility. Certified Green Garages offer significant benefits for drivers, tenants, building owners, property managers, and society overall."
Green Garage Certification evaluates 48 elements of garage operation, programs, structure, and technology. Sustainable garages frequently employ energy-efficient lighting and ventilation systems, guidance systems that help drivers find parking faster, idle-reduction technologies, electric vehicle fueling stations, car sharing, bicycle parking, and storm water management practices.
The seven honorees nearly all employ green cleaning methods, LED lights and timers. They include one corporate HQ, two facilities developed by Brookfield and two in the Washington, D.C., metro area:
Bank of America Plaza (Brookfield), Los Angeles, Calif.
The 2,128-space Bank of America Plaza Garage, situated on four acres, serves a 55-story office tower downtown. The highlights:
BG Group Place (BG Holdco LLC), Houston, Texas
"Wrapped in a glass façade and vegetative roof, the 1,118-space BG Group Place brought Class A, sustainable development to a downtown Houston block."
Canopy Airport Parking (Och Ziff Parking Acquisition Ventures [PAVe]), Denver, Colo.
Canopy Airport Parking placed sustainability central in its development and construction. "Since completing construction in 2010 the facility has built upon its green foundation to embrace sustainable operations and programming with a variety of initiatives including, recycling, alternative fuel shuttles, educational initiatives."
Charles Square Garage (Charles Square Hotel), Cambridge, Mass.
Charles Hotel Garage, located in the historic "Hahvuhd Squayuh" made famous by "Car Talk" hosts Tom and Ray Magliozzi, is a 550-space two-level garage located beneath a mixed-use complex of a luxury hotel, condominiums, retail and a commercial tower. "The garage offers free EV charging, bike sharing, tire inflation, and an innovative small car discount program."
Forest Home Garage (Cornell University), Ithaca, N.Y.
Constructed in 2009, Forest Home Garage is part of the parking system at Cornell University, which hosts a student population of 30,000 and manages 10,000 parking spaces. "This garage contributes to a campus-wide initiative to reach carbon neutrality by 2035 by incorporating energy-efficient measures in the construction of this cast-in-place garage."
Silver Spring Metro Plaza (Brookfield), Silver Spring, Md.
Constructed in 1986, the 466 space Silver Spring Metro Plaza garage sits below over 700,000 square feet of office space and ground-floor retail. "Energy efficiency measures, garage recycling and responsible cleaning practices lessen the facility’s impact on the environment. Additionally, access to the nearby Silver Spring Metro Station, carshare vehicles, EV fueling and bikesharing positions this property as a multimodal hub within the community."
Westpark Corporate Center (JLL), Tysons Corner, Va.
This enclosed, below-grade five-level parking structure with 1,486 spaces supports a 500,000-sq.-ft. office park project of two nine-story buildings. "As a community with nine times the number of parking spaces as people seeks to transform itself into a more walkable, pedestrian-friendly neighborhood, Westpark’s parking program leads by example."
The green parking certifications came two days after the US Dept. of Energy recognized 18 organizations (listed below) as part of its Better Buildings Alliance’s Lighting Energy Efficiency in Parking (LEEP) Campaign. In the past year, these organizations have committed to install efficient lighting across more than 470 million sq. ft. of parking space — cutting energy use on average by 60 percent. Some LEEP award-winning sites from this year and last year have reduced their energy use by as much as 90 percent.
Nationwide, building owners spend more than $16 billion annually to light their parking lots and garages. By improving all outdoor lighting by 60 percent, US building owners could save more than $9 billion annually across the 215 billion sq. ft. of parking facilities.
2015 LEEP Awardees
Altogether, the 2014 and 2015 LEEP award winners are saving nearly 30 million kilowatt-hours and $3 million each year by upgrading to high-efficiency metal halide, fluorescent, and LED solutions that last three times longer than previously-used technologies, and by using controls to save energy when parking facilities are not in use. To date, more than 140 U.S. businesses and organizations are participating in the campaign and planning or installing energy-efficient lighting in their parking lots and garages.
Adam Bruns has served as managing editor of Site Selection magazine since February 2002. In the course of reporting hundreds of stories for Site Selection, Adam has visited companies and communities around the globe. A St. Louis native who grew up in the Kansas City suburbs, Adam is a 1986 alumnus of Knox College, and resided in Chicago; Midcoast Maine; Savannah, Georgia; and Lexington, Kentucky, before settling in the Greater Atlanta community of Peachtree Corners, where he lives with his wife and daughter.
The Site Selection Energy Report features exclusive and in-depth reporting and analysis on the most important energy projects and energy policy issues impacting the world of manufacturing and industrial real estate. Topics covered include oil and gas projects, investments into alternative energy installations and R&D, tax credits and financing, electric utility issues and much more.