In the 1970s, at the advent of the modern environmental movement, Joni Mitchell lamented "they paved paradise to put up a parking lot." Though she wasn't talking about Florida, it is true that our state earned a reputation for slapping down asphalt. All that paving wasn't just ugly, it helped to create our heat island effect, made stormwater runoff hard to manage, and made it much too easy to drive in a place that really needed to increase demand for transit. Today, nearly a half century later, things are beginning to look quite different. Parking lots and parking garages are becoming laboratories for sustainable design. Slowly, very slowly, the paving is becoming part of the solution, not the problem.
What is sustainable parking?
Newer lots and garages incorporate typical structural features such as energy efficient lighting, reflective and pervious surfaces, increased natural lighting and the use of LED, solar panels, recycled materials and Florida-friendly landscaping. They also encourage sustainable practices by providing bike racks, electric vehicle charging stations, recycling containers, and smart meters. As they progress, parking structures are incorporating greenery to absorb CO2 emissions, parklets for creating a sense of place, and paths connected to transit. The future of parking lots and garages is to make them truly mixed-use and transit-oriented, actually contributing to the walkability of a city. The future also includes widespread incorporation of smart technologies to guide drivers to available spaces thereby minimizing the fuel they expend while looking for a place to park.
Fort Lauderdale's Greener Parking
Fort Lauderdale is proud to be on the forefront of experimentation with new parking construction materials and methods, and is moving full speed ahead with improvements. These include:
The Orchid Parking Lot - Piloting Total Sustainable Lot Design
We collaborated with the International Parking Institute, the Green Parking Council, and TimHaahs & Associates to design and construct one of the greenest parking lots in the country. Our Orchid Parking Lot, located on City Hall's north side, was showcased at the IPI 2013 Conference & Expo and was designated a Green Parking Council Demonstrator Site for best practices, new technology, and innovative strategies. The old lot was redesigned and retrofitted to conserve energy and water, accommodate alternative fuel vehicles, and improve stormwater management. Installations include: LED lighting with efficiency controls, an electric car charging station, solar parking meters, permeable paving with a high-SRI coating, Florida-friendly landscaping, a bike rack, and a "parklet" complete with recycling station. Construction waste was managed according to green best management practices. New ground sensors support communication with Parking Services staff in the field, allowing the City to reduce unnecessary meter checks and conserve additional fuel and energy
Pave Drain Tests - Experimenting with water absorbing lot surfaces
Managing stormwater run-off is one of our greatest challenges in parking lot design. New pervious paving surfaces make it possible for us to construct a lot that actually contributes to filtering water as it is absorbed back into the ground. This works well for normal rains, but heavier storms are even more challenging. We are piloting new PaveDrain technology which during tests absorbed 700 gallons of water in under a minute.
Doing Maintenance with Green Building Features
As our lots and garages come up for routine maintenance we look for opportunities to "green" them. In 2014, many of our lots received Street Bond SR150 Coating to increase the reflectivity of lot surfaces and cool the air around them. Our parking garages are being fitted with LED Lighting. Where feasible we are incorporating solar powered metering and will explore adding EV charging stations, such as we did in our Mills Pond Park lot.
Full Scale RenovationsOur Cox’s Landing 15th Street Boat Launch was recently renovated to improve facilities and services. Part of the project focused on the parking lot, and many sustainable best practices were incorporated. They included: energy-efficient overhead lighting; solar-powered restroom facilities and parking meters; pervious concrete foundation for a parklet; solar-reflective pavement coating; Florida-friendly landscaping and bioswales. The project was recognized with an Award of Merit by the Florida Parking Association.
If you own a parking facility, are responsible for maintaining one, or even want to make a few improvement to your own driveway, you can follow our examples and get more information from these resources. Feel free to contact our Transportation and Mobility Parking Division for more information on any of our projects or upgrades.
The Green Parking Council (GPC) has a mission to "promote the blossoming of parking facilities to environmental, technological and economic sustainability and the industry’s growth into a positive force in the built environment." Their vision is so beautifully worded, that it's worth repeating here so that we all know what to expect from parking int he future. The GPC vision states that: "The garage of the future offers convenient services and shines as a beautifully designed urban asset. It is the sustainable, place-making hub for car sharing and intermodality. It provides nourishment for electric cars with renewable, clean energy and smart grid technology. Drawing power from the sun and wind, it is a paragon of performance." GPC's website is full of practical information and interesting facts. As parking structures do not fit in to any other rating standard scheme, the council offers the worlds's only Green Garage Certification.
IPI is the largest association of parking professionals and parking industry representatives. The IPI Sustainability Framework sets goals and provides leadership to encourage sustainable initiatives in the parking industry. Seven goals address energy usage in parking structures, integration with multi-modal and transit oriented development, natural resource and waste management, and related issues.