LEED-Certified Parking Lots

Santa Monica Civic Center Garage. Image Source: Moore Ruble Yudell Architects and Planners

Most people think of office spaces, campuses and apartment buildings when they think of LEED certification.  The truth is, many other structures can receive this environmentally-friendly certification – even parking lots.

A stunning parking lot commissioned by the Santa Monica Civic Center in California was the first LEED-certified parking garage in the United States, Constructed of mostly recycled materials and finished with environmentally-sustainable paint and primers, the structure uses technology that decreases heating and cooling loads and has an energy-efficient mechanical structure.  The parking lot has a storm-drain water-treatment system designed to minimize tainted runoff from interacting with the hydrosphere.  The garage has 900 parking spaces, with 14 spaces equipped with electrical outlets for hybrid cars.  The lot also has space for bicycle storage.

Paul de Ruiter Architects in the Netherlands have also designed a parking lot with the environment in mind.  Created out of recyclable materials, the lot is designed in a way that facilitates easy dismemberment should the space ever need to be moved.

Sustainable parking lots are quickly becoming a trend, with designs popping up in Florida, San Diego and Illinois.  Duke University initiated a “Research Drive Garage Project” and partnered with Bovis Lend Lease to create a $35 million 1,900-space parking garage which took three years to complete, opening in January 2010.  Among its many green features, the lot is equipped with 10,000-gallon cisterns to collect rainwater for landscaping, LED lighting, fuel-efficient and carpool vehicles and recycled building materials.

Many industry professionals have scoffed at the notion of creating a “sustainable” parking lot, arguing that the term is an oxymoron.  Environmental-centric blog Treehugger has argued that a parking lot can never be truly “green” because it promotes car transportation which, in turn, promotes the burning of fossil fuels.  Treehugger goes on to argue that the larger problem – society’s dependence on the automobile – needs to be addressed before there can be a truly “green” parking initiative.

While Treehugger does raise excellent points, it is encouraging to see an emphasis on green building within the construction industry as a whole.  Click here to read more about “green” parking lots (and to join the debate at Treehugger).

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