Tag Archives: earth day

Considering a New TDM on Earth Day

Illustration of different transportation modes against a green backgroundThe face of commuting has changed drastically since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last March. Hesitancy toward transportation modes that put us close together with strangers in an enclosed space, a huge increase in working from home where possible, and even lower gas prices (for a time) have seen people reconsider the way they get from home to work and play. So what does that mean for transportation demand management (TDM)?

Stanford University still has demand for TDM. Vanpools are still running, transit is still in use, and while TDM budgets have been cut (along with so many others), there’s still a need for it, and that need will likely grow as life gets back to something resembling normal.

Brian Shaw, CAPP, executive director of parking and transportation services at the university, takes a hard look at how the commuting landscape has changed and what that means for TDM, now and looking ahead, in the current issue of Parking & Mobility. It’s a great read with lots to think about–and the perfect, sustainable kickoff to Earth Day for parking and mobility professionals. Check it out here.

Planes, Trains, Automobiles, and … Resilience

Earth day sustainabilityBy Paul Wessel

I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about resilience, technically defined as “the ability to prepare and plan for, absorb, recover from, and more successfully adapt to adverse events.”

While our country clearly has fallen short on preparing and planning for the current COVID-19 adverse event, we are figuring out in real time how to absorb, recover from, and (we hope) successfully adapt–and I am struck by the role of the much-maligned, single-occupant vehicle (SOV) in making our way through.

While social distancing and sheltering at home discourage shared-transit use at the moment –and potentially strangle it in the long term–my trusty all-electric Chevy Bolt sits ready for those trips to the pharmacy and market and, if need be, hospital. If supply chains break down, bus drivers can’t drive, or gasoline can’t get delivered, as long as I have electricity (should’ve installed that solar energy system on my roof), my family is fine.

The resilient SOV was brought home to me by GM and its OnStar subsidiary’s announcement that it was giving me and other GM owners car-based free Wi-Fi and “crisis assist” (emergency operator assistance) service. So if the world goes to hell in a handbasket, my “drevice,” as my wife calls it, can keep me connected with the rest of surviving humanity and necessary emergency services.

Resilience draws from biology’s concept of adaptation as the “mechanism by which organisms adjust … to changes in their current environment.” It may be that the SOV that connects us to the outside world–or delivers us food from local restaurants or markets while we are sheltering at home–is both a cause of looming adverse events (transportation is the fastest growing source of CO2 emissions) and part of the way we survive. Can we work with both these conflicting ideas at once?

(For some good, nuanced thinking about the SOV and public transit, see transit planner Jarrett Walker’s CityLab piece on why those of who can will opt for our cars coming out of this crisis and why transit makes urban civilization possible.)

Paul Wessel is director, market development, with the U.S. Green Building Council. This post is part of a five-day series commemorating Earth Day 2020.

Is Sustainability Only About Going Green?

Earth day sustainabilityBy David Karwaski

Sustainability is often thought of as “going green,” or being largely focused on natural environmental effects. Photos of polar bears on tiny flotsam of ice come to mind. But the natural environment is only part of the story—one-third of it, in fact. The other two-thirds are social sustainability and fiscal sustainability. Thus, the story isn’t to go green at any cost, but rather to be as green as one can afford to be while keeping an eye towards fairness and equity for people. This openness to all can also provide benefits to the bottom line; a more wide-ranging client base is often better for business than serving a narrow niche. The thought that should come to mind regarding sustainability is balance. Sustainability is indeed a balancing act—a dance between being green and earning green, with open arms to all.

Further, sustainability isn’t the icing on the cake—an add-on outside the primary business model of a parking operation or mobility services company, trotted out to display commitment to a better world. Sustainability should be part of the cake—the eggs, perhaps—integral to the entire operation and considered at each decision point; does this investment create more impact; is it an efficient investment, perhaps reducing energy usage; and does it serve customers well? LED lighting projects for parking structures is a good example of a triple win: LEDs save energy and thus eliminate some GHG emissions and after a payback period, will also help the bottom line while providing a better environment for people to move through. So the next time you hear about sustainability, remember that it’s a balancing act, for you and for your company, not just the polar bears.

David Karwaski is senior associate director, events and transportation, at UCLA. This post is part of a five-day series commemorating Earth Day 2020.


Making the Switch

Earth day sustainabilityBy Conor Burke

“This is not normal.” This quote has been used in many aspects of our lives the last few years, and COVID-19 has made sure this phrase will be with us in the foreseeable future.

As an industry, parking and mobility has been trending to be more green-friendly.

There are a multitude of ways these statements—being more sustainable and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic—are coming together. One manner should be fairly obvious: cleaning our facilities. The recent focus on washing our hands for 20 seconds and disinfecting high-traffic areas should have all professionals looking at their stocks of supplies and thinking about the surfaces customers touch all the time. Switching to certified green-friendly cleaning products can be easy to implement into your facilities. The green certification on these products was earned by having the product tested and quantified from toxicity limits to the energy used to produce them.

Certified cleaning products can help combat the spread of germs and help keep our employees safe in a more eco-friendly way. Parking and mobility professionals should make the conscious switch to green-friendly cleaning products and turn these higher standards into the industry norm.

Conor Burke is operations manager with VPNE Parking Solutions. This post is part of a five-day series commemorating Earth Day 2020.

Five Essential Elements for Planning a Mobility Hub

Earth day sustainabilityBy David Taxman, PE

I was recently asked to develop a plan for two mobility hubs at two developments in a south Florida city. Mobility hubs are multiple modes of transportation (i.e. train, bus, bike-share, car-share, etc.) at one location, and are typically located at high-frequency, public transit stations.

After reviewing case studies of mobility hubs across the world, I developed a list of five essential elements to consider as part of the planning of a mobility hub.

  1. Consider the users. The modes of transportation provided should be the most beneficial to the users in the area. Make data driven decisions regarding the investment in transportation infrastructure.
  2. Consider the larger transportation network. A network of mobility hubs is successful if the surrounding transportation system effectively supports each mode of transportation. Are there supporting bike lanes, sidewalks, intersections that consider the pedestrian, HOV lanes, etc.?
  3. Place in active locations. Mobility hubs should be in active areas with high transportation and parking needs. The goal should be to reduce both SOV trips and parking demand.
  4. Ensure mobile wayfinding applications. Each mode of transportation should be on a mobile app and possibly offer an easy form of payment through the app or allow seamless transfers with a transit card.
  5. Provide necessary and attractive amenities. There are a variety of amenities that can be provided when you begin to consider the users and the modes of transportation offered. Such amenities could include lockers, café/vending, shelter/bench, interactive map, parking, etc.

David Taxman, PE, is a project manager with Kimley-Horn. This post is part of a five-day series commemorating Earth Day 2020.



Opening Up a Whole New Frontier: Storytelling for Sustainability

By Paul Wessel

The air quality in Delhi is among the poorest in the world; it’s so bad that many people are quite literally allergic to the air. Doctors told Kamal Meattle, CEO of the Paharpur Business Center, that his lung capacity had diminished by 30 percent, that he should leave his city and seek safer air elsewhere.

But Kamal didn’t want to leave his home. Instead, he discovered that certain indoor plants could actually generate clean air. He began growing them inside his building. Since then, respiratory illness has dropped 34 percent among the building’s workers and air pollution-associated medical symptoms have decreased.

Kamal’s LEED-certified Platinum building is now the healthiest office building in Delhi. And his story is a model for how telling stories both changes lives and saves them.

We know stories are powerful. They convey the underlying values and impact of what we do. They help us reach larger audiences. This is true in IPMI’s outreach campaign, it’s true in the sustainable buildings movement, and we’re making it true throughout the U.S. Green Building Council. As our CEO Mahesh Ramanujam wrote on SustainableBrands.com recently:

In the coming days, as part of an overarching campaign called Living Standard, we will release the first in a series of reports that examine how storytelling can help us make strides in sustainability. Rooted in personal conversation and interaction, this new type of data will help us better understand how people from all walks of life feel about the issues at the core of the green building community’s mission–sustainability, green buildings and the environment.

The Living Standard campaign builds upon USGBC’s existing, world-class certification programs and works to ensure that every person on the planet, regardless of background or circumstance, has access to a better, more sustainable quality of life and a higher standard of living.

Parksmart’s leaders have great stories to tell. For example, check out Pam Messenger on Garage at Post Office Square, Mark Cho on WePark’s work in China, and Salem State’s Transportation Center’s Ed Adelman on YouTube.

Keep doing the great work you do. And make sure to tell your stories about the good you do in the world. Because, as they say, Parking Matters.

Paul Wessel is director, market development at the U.S. Green Building Council. This is the first of a week-long series of posts celebrating Earth Day.