By Brian Shaw, CAPP

As we celebrate another Earth Week this week, I am remarking on the progress Stanford continues to make in our sustainability efforts.  We are now using 100% renewable energy thanks to the recent opening of a new solar farm near Fresno, CA.  However, I also think about the continued challenge we face in optimizing and scaling approaches to making the campus more sustainable.

A couple of examples:

  1. Solar panels on the roof of our largest above ground garage. When this project was implemented, the project plan did not include the costs for restriping the roof to factor in the new columns needed to support the solar panels.  We lost about 10-15% of the roof’s previous capacity as well, for which we were not compensated.  We had to close the roof to complete this installation as well as later to do the needed restriping. Also, one of those solar panels recently broke loose during a very windy day and damaged a car parked below.  An inspection revealed the entire solar array needs to be repaired, requiring once again for the roof of the garage to be closed until the repairs on completed.
  2. Workplace EV charging – Our approach has been to comply with our counties’ or city’s building codes to add EV chargers for new or significantly renovated parking facilities. This had led to an imbalance where chargers are located on campus and a lack of charging for our on-campus residents.  We have also only installed level 2 chargers as required by code, but demand would be served by having some level 1 slow charging for our residential population.  We continue to find our level 2 chargers are underutilized at no more than 40% occupancy.

These examples I bring up to demonstrate how we are all still learning how best to make our parking programs more sustainable.  These technologies have yet to establish standards and tired and true approaches to ensure success and scalability.  We should continue to help one another learn from our experiences and over time establish best practices for the emerging approaches to making parking more sustainable.

Brian Shaw, CAPP, is executive director of Stanford Transportation for Stanford University, and co- chair of IPMI’s Sustainability Committee. He can be reached at