Car Sharing, car shareBy Brian Shaw, CAPP 

As the U.S. attempts to heal and come together following a contentious and acrimonious presidential election, the parking industry offers an inspiring example of how two opposing sides can reconcile and come together.

You may remember a few years ago when the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) decided unilaterally that parking garages would no longer be able to be considered for its LEED program. This arguably could have ended the growing sustainability movement in the parking industry. If a project couldn’t be LEED-certified, why bother adding more sustainable features?

Fortunately, the parking industry has some heroes in its midst who didn’t give up. An intrepid group got together at the next IPI Conference and formed the Green Parking Council (GPC), which took upon itself developing standards for making both new and existing parking garages more sustainable. The result was a thorough and comprehensive green certification program for parking garages, created, developed and implemented entirely by the parking industry.

That could be the end of the story. But it’s not. Following the decision by LEED about parking, IPI leadership and the GPC continued to build and maintain relationships among the three groups. While GPC was evaluating the first set of Green Garages, discussions were occurring between GPC, IPI, and the USGBC about next steps. The result was reconciliation. GBCI, the certifying body for LEED, would ultimately acquire the program, and rebrand it Parksmart, and it would continue to certify and create the standards for green parking garages. IPI would continue to provide expertise through its committees for education and keeping the Parksmart standards up to date.

A recent day-long meeting occurred between the USGBC, GBCI, IPI, and the former GPC to finalize the merger and emergence of Parksmart. I was able to listen in and provide some context for why universities are interested in Parksmart. The camaraderie, respect, and admiration exhibited by those at the meeting demonstrates the value of continuing to work together, keeping an open mind, and being willing to trust that two opposing sides can work out their differences. Thanks to diligent efforts by everyone involved, parking is back with the USGBC.

I used to be a basketball official and college hoops season just started this weekend, I’ll conclude by saying that looking back on the LEED/parking split, it turned out to be no harm, no foul. Let’s hope the direction our country will likely now take will have the same result for all Americans.

Brian Shaw, CAPP, is director of parking and transportation services at Stanford University.