Tag Archives: TPP-2014-12

Greening the Walls

TPP-2014-12-Greening the WallsBy Vicki Lee

Parking structures haven’t traditionally been viewed as things of beauty; historically, they’ve been thought of as dull, gray, and packed with vehicles that emit pollutants. An increasingly popular solution to this challenge has been to cover parking garages’ façades with living green walls.

Green walls, also known as living walls, vertical gardens, or plant walls, are a rising trend in green design. These living works of art are a cost-efficient way to beautify a building, creating a whole new aesthetic while adding positive environment benefits, such as better air quality, urban beautification, general well being, temperature regulation, and building protection. In many ways, green walls are perfectly suited for cold, hard structures that need a touch of nature, but they’re also a way of doing good for the community and planet Earth.

There are two different types of green wall systems that work for parking garages; each one has its own advantages and varies in cost:

Traditional Vine Trellis. This is planted in the ground or in a planter. It can grow along the face of the wall, whether on its own, on a cable system, or on an installed screen. Keep in mind that with this option only one row of plants is planted at the bottom and grows up the entire surface. The drawback to this system is that you won’t know at the start if your façade will ever be fully covered, and reaching full coverage could take years. The advantage is low cost.

Vine Containers/Screens. These are rows of vine containers that are typically placed at 5-foot intervals up across the surface of the wall. While this system does cost a little more than a traditional vine trellis, the advantage is that you get much more consistent coverage, the plants can reach higher levels, and the wall is assured of consistent coverage. You also have the option of adding pre-grown plants at an additional cost.

Whether you opt for a traditional vine trellis or vine containers/screens, here are the top 10 things you’ll want to consider before installing a green wall on your parking garage:

1. Aesthetics
Living walls give buildings an immediate wow factor—the idea of seeing plants grow vertically on walls is both innovative and fascinating. Today, they are wonderful pieces of art that make a green statement about environmental commitments for any building owner or business. Living walls have the potential to transform any space by turning a concrete surface into an aesthetically pleasing artwork while improving people’s experience. Furthermore, they are green infrastructures that help contribute to urban green space.

Many cities have started to implement a green space requirement for new developments, and a green wall can be counted toward this. In some cases, parking developers may even be allowed to increase parking density as a result of including more greenery.

In instances where there have been pushbacks against new parking structure developments, green walls have been a successful concession to put forward in the negotiations to get a project approved.

2. Functionality
There is more to living walls than meets the eye! A perfect blend of nature and art, there are many proven environmental benefits that come from these eco-friendly green walls, including:

Screening. Living wall systems designed for parking garages provide an instant greening effect that is aesthetically pleasing and very cost effective.

Temperature Regulation. Green walls reduce wall temperature by as much as 15 degrees Fahrenheit. They also help mitigate the urban heat island effect that is a result of concentrated heat from air conditioners, asphalt roads, vehicles, and the general population. Green walls lessen the heat through the evaporation process and shading surfaces that are conducive to heat absorption.

Air Quality Benefits. You can breathe easy knowing that plants on the green walls act as a natural breathing air filter by removing dust and toxins. They help increase energy-rich O2 and reduce CO2 through the process of photosynthesis. Just 50 square feet of green wall can consume as much CO2 and produce as much O2 as a 15-foot-high tree in one year!

Sound Absorption: We are constantly surrounded by noise in the city; fortunately, plants on the green wall can absorb acoustic sounds and minimize noise pollution. Built on the exteriors of a building, green walls serve as noise buffers that can significantly reduce sound reflection and vibrations.

General Well-Being. Plants help ease physiological and psychological pressures of city life by providing a spiritual and physical connection to nature.

3. Height
The height or the number of building stories will influence the coverage of the green wall and how high it can be installed. Traditional vine trellis systems are great for one to two stories of green wall coverage, whereas container systems are recommended for coverage higher than two stories, although they can be used for one to two stories of coverage, as well.

4. Structural
Depending on your location, wind and earthquakes may play a significant role in your ability to install a green wall. Traditional vine systems are not an issue, but vine containers/screens require planning for additional weight and fasteners to the building. Also, depending on the location of specific structural elements within the building, a green wall may or may not be able to be installed on a certain area of the surface. Consulting with a structural engineer on the job is required to ensure anchors are placed far enough from post-tension cables so they will not compromise the structural integrity of the building.

5. Irrigation
There are two options to get water to the green wall:

Install all of your valves in a single location and run individual lines to each point you want that water to reach.

Install a single water line and stub out to each water location and put a valve at each of the stub outs. This requires an electrical conduit to be placed alongside the water line to run valve control wires to reach the valve. The number of valves that are required on a wall will be determined by several factors:

  • Solar exposure of the plants.
  • The height of the plants on the wall.
  • The number of plants on the wall.
  • Any shading conditions that might be affecting any specific areas of the wall.

6. Drainage
Drainage is typically not as big of an issue for parking structures because there are drainage points available throughout the structure. It is often possible to drain water onto the parking surface early in the morning when irrigation runs, or it can be tapped directly into the sanitary system—either way is perfectly acceptable.

7. Environmental
Another important factor to consider for outdoor green walls is climate and the direction a wall faces and exposure. Temperature and exposure can affect the way the plants grow.

When using a vine container/screen system in a warm climate, it is important to keep the roots of the plants from overheating in the containers. To do this, the containers must be shaded from direct solar radiation. If this doesn’t happen, the plants’ roots will heat up and require more frequent watering to keep cool, increasing your water bill. That being said, if you don’t irrigate frequently, the plants could die.

In cold climates, various plants survive freezing by injecting a natural anti-freeze into their branches and roots. However, if the roots of the plants get too cold, the temperatures can exceed the capabilities of the plant roots to protect themselves. To protect the plants’ roots, there should be a heating wire system installed in the planters that will protect them from damaging temperatures. This heating wire does not bring the roots above freezing but keeps temperatures within the container at a point that protects roots so the plants can recover and thrive in the spring.

8. Plants
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Zone Map will help you determine the best-suited plants in your area. The USDA map has 11 plant zones, ranging from very cold (e.g., Zone 1, which includes Alaska), to very hot and/or humid (e.g., Zone 11 includes Puerto Rico, and Zone 9 includes Arizona).

Popular plant choices include vines, evergreens, and deciduous. You can even mix evergreens with flowering or deciduous vines to create seasonal flower and color change.

9. Accessibility
Before installing a green wall, you need to consider how it will be accessed. If you can’t access it, you can’t put a green wall there! There are a variety of ways to access the plants, such as ladders, scissors lift, boom lift, scaffolding, elevated platform, and more. At the end of the day, you need a way to access your living wall.

10. Maintenance
Maintenance is required on all plants. The type of system and the site conditions will determine the degree to which maintenance is required. Frequency of visits also depends on location and cost.
Here is what you can expect by season:

Spring. This is the time of year when longer days and warmer temperatures initiate new leaf growth on the plants.

The beginning of spring will quickly fill the walls back in with new leaves until they are fully covered again.

Maintenance on vines should be done to train new shoots to cover bare locations on the wall and to cut back any nonperforming or overgrowth areas of the wall. This is also the time when the plants need nutrients (fertilizer) to support new growth and develop good vigor.

Summer. Most plants go dormant over the summer to deal with the longer days and heat. Irrigation is still required, but it must be carefully managed to not damage the plants by over- or under-watering.

Fall. Fall will see a last spurt of growth due to shorter days and cooler temperatures. It is at this time that the plants will benefit greatly from pruning in order to prepare for the winter by hardening off, and to promote thick, tight growth in the following year. Leaf cleanup and cutting back dead stems is the biggest maintenance task at this time of the year for all walls.

Winter. Evergreen and semi-evergreen plants will hold their leaves over the winter, however, they will appear depressed, especially in areas with a lot of snow. Deciduous vines will lose their leaves over the winter and your screens will be bare, displaying only the stems/branches of the plants. There are some vines that flower from these bare branches in the winter, but they aren’t available in all locales. Maintenance is minimal, and irrigation systems in cold climates are shut down and blown out on vine container systems.

In conclusion, there are several things to consider before installing any type of green wall. Green walls are alive—they are a living system comprised of various technologies that are designed to keep the plants alive and thriving. As such, green walls need routine care to ensure all components are performing at their best. Plants, just like all living things, require food, regular cleaning, grooming, and pruning. That being said, only proper maintenance can guarantee a beautiful and long-lasting green wall.

Vicki Lee is marketing and social media coordinator for GSky Plant Systems, Inc. Contact Brent Bock at 561.894.8688.

TPP-2014-12-Greening the Walls

EVs Everywhere

TPP-2014-12-EV's EverywhereBy Sarah Olexsak

When it comes to parking, employers and facility managers are working together to make plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) charging stations the next bike racks. Parking providers that offer charging to workplaces can have a competitive advantage when attracting clients in ­cutting-edge industries.

Employers have long recognized that important sustainability efforts, such as workplace charging, enhance their overall corporate image. In the past few years, employers have also recognized that investing in workplace charging tangibly contributes to their environmental stewardship efforts, attracts and retains top talent, and demonstrates their concern for employee quality of life.

Leaders from across the country are partnering with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) through the EV Everywhere Workplace Charging Challenge to achieve a tenfold increase in the number of employers offering workplace charging by 2018. In fact, more than 140 U.S. employers have already committed to providing employee access to PEV charging stations at more than 300 worksites across the country.

Challenge partners currently offer access to PEV charging stations to more than 600,000 employees and are influencing countless other organizations to do the same. These leaders are accelerating the development of the nation’s worksite PEV charging infrastructure and supporting cleaner, more convenient transportation options within their communities.

Workers Embrace Electric Vehicles
Many employers have observed an “if you build it, they will come” phenomenon, as an increasing number of employees purchase PEVs after charging stations were installed where they work.

Sean Asure, an employee of MetLife, says, “MetLife’s provision of workplace charging was the main reason my family looked into purchasing a PEV. It is such a great benefit in terms of cost savings. When we looked at the vehicle options, a PEV made sense.”

In addition to convenience, workplace charging reduces fuel and maintenance costs for PEV-driving employees. Drivers across the country are recognizing the many benefits of PEVs. 2014 sales reached nearly 79,000 in the first eight months—a 32 percent increase over the same period in 2013. As of September 2014, more than 250,000 PEVs were on U.S. highways, powered by electricity made in America. These drivers can fuel their vehicles at a price of about $1.

The Workplace Charging Challenge enlists stakeholder organizations as ambassadors to promote and support workplace charging. These 17 ambassador organizations, including the International Parking Institute (IPI), independently develop resources and help educate employers through special events and workshops on PEVs and workplace charging.

“The Workplace Charging Challenge provides invaluable resources and technical assistance to our members,” says Rachel Yoka, LEED AP BD+C, IPI’s vice president of program development. “IPI has a critical role to play by increasing both awareness and education on the successful implementation of workplace charging. As identified in our Sustainability Framework, our members comprise a critical piece of the infrastructure puzzle to increase adoption of electric vehicles across the country; as an industry, we will be part of that solution to advance cleaner cars, cleaner fuels, and reductions in emissions and pollution.”

As more employers wish to install charging stations in the parking lots and garages of their leased facilities, the Workplace Charging Challenge is identifying best practices and developing resources with the help of parking professionals and green building experts. The Challenge also offers technical assistance, whether an employer is installing workplace charging for the first time or expanding existing programs to respond to employee demand. The Challenge recently released a charging station procurement guide, an Americans with Disabilities Act compliance guide for installing workplace charging, and an employee outreach toolkit.

Join the Charge
The DOE Workplace Charging Challenge is open to employers of all sizes and industry types in all regions of the United States. Taking the Challenge offers benefits to employers who are considering installing PEV charging stations along with those who have successfully launched workplace charging programs. Becoming a partner in the Challenge allows your organization to gain access to informational resources, peer-to-peer networking, one-on-one technical assistance, and recognition for your workplace charging efforts.

More than 70 percent of partners surveyed reported receiving outside recognition for their workplace charging efforts. Survey respondents also noted that they are receiving positive staff feedback, with 95 percent of partners’ employees expressing satisfaction with their workplace charging program. For information, visit electricvehicles.energy.gov or email workplacecharging@ee.doe.gov.

Sarah Olexsak is Workplace Charging Challenge coordinator with the U.S. Department of Energy. She can be reached at sarah.olexsak@ee.doe.gov or 202.586.2149.

TPP-2014-12-EVs Everywhere

Lots of Greening

TPP-2014-12-Lots of GreeningBy Brian McKelligett

The city of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., recently completed an almost one-year renovation of its very popular and recently renamed Cox’s Landing 15th Street Boat Launch. This launch facility has long been popular with boaters thanks to its easy access to the ocean. The city estimates that more than 17,000 boaters use it to get in and out of the water every year.

The $1.7 million renovation was partially funded with $1.3 million in grant funds from the Florida Inland Navigation District’s Waterway Assistance Program and the Broward Boating Improvement Program for construction and renovation at the multi-use marine facility. The project commenced in November 2013 and was completed in August 2014.

Before you can boat, you have to park your car, and that’s where we came in. In January 2013, the City of Fort Lauderdale’s Transportation and Mobility Department entered into a partnership with IPI, the Green Parking Council (GPC), and Timothy Haahs and Associates, Inc., to develop a list of sustainable parking lot improvements for the city’s many surface parking lots. The city then completely renovated its Orchid Parking Lot at City Hall. This upgrade included many of the sustainable best practices that were developed, and this lot was showcased at the 2013 IPI Conference & Expo held in Fort Lauderdale (see the December 2013 issue of The Parking Professional for more).

Going Green
A list was developed with a number of sustainable best practices to be incorporated into the renovation at Cox’s Landing. Although many of these best practices are in the process of being applied at many of the city’s other surface lots, Cox’s Landing will be the first finished green lot.

Some of the sustainable best practices and renovation initiatives introduced at this lot include:

  • Undergrounding of overhead utility lines and all new energy-efficient overhead lighting throughout the facility.
  • A new ADA-accessible, solar-powered restroom building.
  • A new picnic area with a fish-cleaning station and parklet built on pervious concrete.
  • Expanded public and trailer parking with a StreetBond SR150 solar-resistant coating application.
  • Solar-powered, multi-space parking meters.
  • New concrete curbing and pervious concrete sidewalks throughout the facility.
  • Florida-friendly sustainable landscaping throughout with bio-retention swales.
  • New floating docks for Fort Lauderdale’s Police Marine Unit.
  • Exterior improvements and ADA accessibility to the police building.

The city was able to keep this facility open during the entire renovation process to minimize disruption to the boat launch.

Moving Ahead
Cox’s Landing went well—so well that the city is moving forward with many of these and other sustainable initiatives in its other surface lots. A contract was recently signed to resurface seven additional lots with the StreetBond SR150 application. These seven lots represent more than 330,000 square feet of asphalt surface and more than 450 parking spaces.

The solar reflective coating for asphalt has specialized characteristics that reduce the urban heat island effect by reducing the amount of solar energy absorbed by pavement surfaces. The color selected for these projects is evergreen, which has a solar reflective index of .33 and meets LEED requirements. The total cost for this portion of the project is just more than $1 million.

Lighting in three lots has already been completely retrofitted to solar. The three lots selected are directly adjacent to the East Las Olas Boulevard, which is one of South Florida’s most architecturally unique, authentic, and eclectic shopping and dining districts. These lots include 163 parking spaces and are some of the most heavily used in the city.

A large solar collector was installed in each of the lots with numerous ground-level solar lights, sufficient to illuminate each lot in all lighting conditions. Community interest and acceptance of this lighting project has been exciting and we hope to duplicate it in other lots within the city. Where that is not possible, energy-efficient LED lighting will replace existing lighting.

Two Wheels, Too
Working with the Fort Lauderdale Parks and Recreation Department, bicycle racks are being installed throughout the city. In many cases these racks replace one or more on-street public parking spaces. Bollards are installed at the corner of each bike rack station to protect the bicyclist and bicycle. Where possible, bike racks are also being installed in the city’s surface parking lots.

The city has dozens of special events each year. To encourage alternative methods of transportation and take advantage of Florida’s beautiful weather, the city is working with outside vendors to provide bike valet stations at each event. Bike valet parking works like a coat check for bicycles: Patrons are issued claim checks in exchange for their bikes, which staff members guard in a secure corral. When you are ready to leave, you present your claim check to get your bike back.

In addition to the bike rack, the city, in partnership with Broward B-Cycle, has bicycle sharing stations throughout the entire area. All users need to do is purchase an annual membership for less than $50. The program is open year-round. Annual members are issued B-cards and get the first half-hour of every trip at no additional charge, plus discounted rates on longer journeys. Just pick up a bike at one of the dozens of stations and ride it, leaving it at any other B-Cycle station.

Working with parks and recreation, all parking lot landscaping is being upgraded to be more Florida-friendly. Irrigation of lawns and landscaping in Florida represents the single largest use of water from our municipal water supplies. This water use has seriously affected the aquifer, which is the source of our drinking water and water that supports Florida’s lovely springs and other ecosystems. In addition, fertilizers and pesticides used on lawns are major sources of pollution. Florida native plants require little irrigation or fertilizer and are typically very low maintenance.

EV Charging
Another sustainable initiative we are undertaking is to install electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in as many of our surface parking lots as feasible. We are currently in the process of installing dual-head, level two charging stations in seven of our surface parking lots. Earlier this year, the city installed South Florida’s first EV charging stations that are powered with wind turbines in our Mills Pond Park. These four new stations are certainly noticed and used, and the wind turbines can be seen from I-95. (An EV charging station that was installed as part of the 2013 IPI Conference & Expo is still in constant use at City Hall.)

In October 2013, working in conjunction with Titan America, the city completed a demo installation of PaveDrain® at the City Hall parking lot. PaveDrain® is a permeable articulating concrete block pavement system, uniquely designed to mitigate stormwater flooding and to increase low-impact development (LID). It is an excellent product for South Florida because it allows stormwater to infiltrate naturally back into the aquifer, eliminating the need for underground stormwater systems and/or retention ponds.

One year later, the product is holding up extremely well and has generated a tremendous amount of interest. Plans are in the works to install this product at another of the city’s surface parking lots.

The city is in the final stages of awarding a contract to install smart parking technology throughout more than 13,000 parking locations. Using embedded sensors and a smartphone application, a driver can find available parking spaces throughout the city. This helps drivers make better driving choices before they even leave their homes. This technology can dramatically reduce driving time, emissions, and driver frustration.

In addition, installation of this technology will completely change the way the city’s parking enforcement division works. Instead of randomly patrolling the city looking for parking violations, parking enforcement is immediately alerted when a parking session expires.

The embedded sensor communicates to the meter when a vehicle pulls into a spot. The meter communicates directly to the enforcement officer if payment is not made or if time has expired. Again, this will dramatically reduce the time enforcement spends roaming the city. Enforcement officers will be directed to potential violations, which will reduce fuel usage and emissions.

At a City Commission meeting on August 20, 2013, the city passed a one-year trial Parklet Pilot Program ordinance. This program has now been extended until the end of December 2014. A parklet is a semi-permanent deck that expands the pedestrian realm beyond the sidewalk into a parking lane. This allows adjacent business owners to provide outdoor seating without the need for permanent street redesign and construction.

Parklet areas may include elements such as table and chairs, with or without food and beverage service, planters, and other improvements generally located in front of existing businesses.

The first parklet was built in the 1200 block of East Las Olas Boulevard, the city’s premier shopping and dining destinations. Several additional parklets are in the planning and permitting stage.

As you can see, Fort Lauderdale takes green seriously, even (maybe especially) in its parking lots, proving that sustainable parking is doable and realistic for municipal parking programs.

Brian McKelligett is parking services manager with the department of transportation and mobility for the City of Fort Lauderdale. He can be reached at BMcKelligett@fortlauderdale.gov.

TPP-2014-12-Lots of Greening

Making a LEEP

TPP-2014-12-Making a LeepBy Michael Myer

There’s no doubt about it: Parking facility lighting has come a long way in recent years, saving energy, money, and nearly countless resources. Thanks to a new campaign and awards program, it’s taking a giant LEEP and hopes to achieve more than 500 million square feet of planned or installed high-efficiency parking lighting by March 1, 2015.

In September 2012, the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA), U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Green Parking Council (GPC, an affiliate of the International Parking Institute), and International Facility Management Association (IFMA) started the Lighting Energy Efficiency in Parking (LEEP) Campaign and awards with the goal of getting parking facilities to install high-efficiency equipment (fixtures and/or controls) to reduce their energy use.

The energy used in lighting parking facilities (lots, structures, garages, and ramps) in the U.S. in 2013 was nearly 1 percent of all energy usage (this value includes all sources of energy, including fuel for vehicles). Advances in lighting technology, lighting controls, and design practices since 2010 create ample opportunities for energy savings for parking facilities. Data from the first year of LEEP awards indicate that sites have realized savings between 45 and 90 percent in parking lots and structures, both new and renovated. LEEP’s Year 1 goal was for at least 100 million square feet of planned or installed high-efficiency parking facility lighting; the goal was surpassed, and year two has begun.

In year two of the LEEP Campaign, the International Parking Institute (IPI) signed on as a co-organizer. The LEEP Campaign also increased the goal for year two to 500 million square feet of high-efficiency parking facility lighting.

The campaign has multiple objectives. Obviously, energy savings is an overall objective, but beyond saving energy, savings documentation has been an objective as well. Data about current practices from LEEP have informed the industry about technologies being deployed and their results. Another objective is positive peer pressure—when one organization sees the savings achieved by another, it may be inclined to do the same.

Participants and Supporters
Who should join LEEP? A variety of organizations joined LEEP, both as participants (those that actually operate/own/manage the parking facilities) and supporters. Organizations that have participated in LEEP are located across the country and include commercial developers, retailers, military facilities, federal facilities, educational institutions, municipalities, and parking organizations. These include a number of innovative programs:

  • The University of Minnesota participated in LEEP Year 1 awards, submitting three different parking garages/ramps, including one facility that racked up 90 percent energy savings compared to previously installed lighting, through the use of LEDs and lighting controls that reduce the output of fixtures when the ramp was unoccupied.
  • The Allentown Parking Authority submitted two parking structures for LEEP Year 1 awards that saved roughly a combined 450,000 kWh annually or roughly more than 70 percent of the energy savings from its previous lighting equipment.
  • Parmenter Realty Partner, a commercial developer, saved 68 percent of the energy in its parking structure compared to the energy usage of the lighting system it replaced.

There are many benefits to joining LEEP. If an organization achieves significant energy savings, it might be recognized for an award. In LEEP Phase 1, 12 organizations were recognized for their exemplary energy savings at the 2014 IFMA Facility Fusion Conference in Washington, D.C. LEEP Phase 2 awards will be conferred in June 2015 in Los Angeles at a BOMA conference.

To achieve its goals, the LEEP Campaign has deployed many different resources to help facilities realize energy savings. The LEEP Campaign website (leepcampaign.org) has case studies of significant energy savings to demonstrate what is possible and make the business case for installing high-efficiency lighting. The website also has calculators to help determine the economics of a possible lighting change to a given site. A list of lighting incentives is posted, along with performance specifications for high-efficiency lighting for parking lots and structures.

Finally, the LEEP Campaign offers limited technical assistance via independent third-party entities that can provide lighting recommendations to sites. This technical assistance can answer questions about technology, make suggestions about equipment and layout, and provide other recommendations to sites. The technical assistance is barred from doing actual lighting designs.

The Awards
The LEEP Campaign sponsors 12 awards; eight of those focus on savings at an individual site, with a set of awards for retrofit and new construction projects. For each type of construction, awards are available for both parking lots and parking garages (structures, ramps, or similar entities). Finally, awards are offered for the parking facility of each type that saves the greatest portion of energy, and another is given to the site that saves the greatest total amount of energy. These eight awards are structured this way to allow sites of any size the ability to compete.

In Year 1, sites as small as 9,000 square feet and as large as 13.5 million square feet won awards.

One of the awards focuses on the best use of controls and multiple sites. Parking facilities are perfect spots (and in some areas, required by code) to incorporate lighting controls—devices that reduce output of the light fixture based on time scheduling, occupancy, daylight, or other variables. To truly realize tremendous energy savings in parking facilities, lighting controls are a virtual requirement. The best use of controls award recognizes facilities that are forward-thinking and push the boundaries of what is possible.

The other three awards focus on multiple sites to encourage aggregate energy savings. These three awards include the largest number of sites upgraded, the largest percentage of an organization’s facilities upgraded, and an overall largest portfolio-wide energy savings.

The Winners
LEEP Year 1 was a total success! Twenty-one organizations submitted detailed site information for awards. The cumulative area of the submitted data for awards was more than 160 million square feet of parking lots, structures, garages, and ramps—that’s more than 500,000 parking spots. Participating organizations used a variety of lighting technologies and controls to save 36 million kilowatt-hours (kWh), roughly the same amount of energy used annually by 3,000 homes. The significant energy savings resulted in $3.5 million in savings from electricity alone. Many sites also incurred additional financial savings from reduced maintenance, but those maintenance savings were not calculated for LEEP Year 1.

Organizations such as Walmart, Kimco Realty Corporation, Regency Centers, and Marine Corps Base Quantico all competed for the largest number of sites upgraded. Each of these companies and the military base submitted between 60 and 160 individual parking facilities for LEEP Year 1. Ultimately, Kimco won the absolute number of sites upgraded (160) through installing lighting controls and some new equipment.

LEEP award winners represented projects both large and small:

  • Cox Enterprises submitted its Manheim Auto Auction site, a parking lot encompassing 13.5 million square feet that’s used for an auto auction. Through new metal halide fixtures and lighting controls, Cox realized a 50 percent energy savings of almost 1.7 million kWh annually.
  • Marine Corps Base Quantico replaced the lighting at almost 100 parking lots on base. One parking lot, only 9,800 square feet in size, realized an energy savings of more than 80 percent compared to the previous installation, saving more than 5,000 kWh per year in the parking lot.
  • MGM Resorts International submitted its MGM Grand Detroit parking structure, a 2.6 million-square-foot parking garage. The company realized 80 percent energy savings at the facility and now saves nearly 4 million kWh annually.
  • The University of Minnesota submitted a very small parking garage—only 24,000 square feet—that saved 90 percent energy savings compared to its previous lighting system, saving 90,000 kWh annually.

The organizations that submitted data for LEEP Year 1 used a variety of lighting technologies that included high-efficiency metal halide, fluorescent, induction, and LED fixtures. Often, entities think that energy savings can only be achieved with a certain technology, but LEEP winners used many different technologies. In addition to the use of high-efficiency fixtures, awardees also incorporated and often layered together a series of lighting controls, including occupancy sensors, daylight sensors (parking structures), timers, and even some new novel control systems.


Of the 584 individual parking facilities submitted in Year  1 for awards, the average payback was shorter than six years. For some sites, the payback was fewer than two years, but one site had a rather long payback of nearly 20 years. Overall, most the paybacks were short, and this value was an outlier. However, the cost effectiveness of these sites needs to be considered in detail.

The cost of electricity in the U.S. ranges across the country. Per the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the rate in the West South Central part of the U.S. (Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana) is $0.0826 /kWh, whereas the rate in the Pacific noncontiguous section (Hawaii and Alaska) is $0.2703 /kWh. Because parking lot lighting is primarily used at night, the off-peak electricity rate is often lower. This is also an element to consider when using electricity rate as a metric for a site. Regency Centers’ economics changed after its retrofit at the Rona Plaza site in Santa Ana, Calif. Regency realized more than 80 percent energy savings in the new installation (LEDs with controls) compared to the original lighting (1,000 W high-pressure sodium and dusk-to-dawn operation).

However, after the installation of the new lighting, Regency’s rate changed, which subsequently affected some of its economics. Therefore, the original fewer-than-three-year payback changed. Electricity rates will differ by sites and rates will change, so sites need to research the specifics of their cost effectiveness as they consider different lighting installations.

Don’t only focus on electricity savings. To stay competitive with LEDs, virtually all light sources now offer long-life options with manufacturers claiming lives of their products of 40,000, 60,000, or even 100,000 hours. By upgrading the light equipment to longer life equipment, the annual cost for maintenance is reduced. In a parking lot, the cost of labor to put a person in a bucket truck and replace the light in the fixture can easily be $200 per pole. This cost quickly adds up, and many of the sites that participated in LEEP found the reduced costs for maintenance to be more valuable than the money saved from the energy savings.

Rebates or incentives range across the country. Many regional energy organizations (utilities and energy-efficiency groups) offer rebates for installing high-efficiency equipment and controls for parking facilities. The LEEP website includes a list by state and by application (structure vs. lot) of incentives from across the country. This list is a good resource for sites considering upgrading lighting. It should be noted that, in time, these organizations will offer less money and fewer options as state regulators determine that high-efficiency technology is becoming the standard option.

Look beyond the standard dollars for equipment options. If considering new equipment and controls to save significant options, utility custom options often offer incentives on the saved kWh, which might be more work but may be more economically sensible. For parking structures where equipment is being replaced, also look for demand reduction incentives. Because parking garages operate during the day, their use can affect peak load. Utilities offer incentives—dollars on the kilowatts reduced (less power installed)—that could be more valuable than other incentives because when demand is high, utilities have to turn on more expensive power plants to offset those costs.

Time affects the prices and payback, as well. Another major item to factor into the collective payback period of these new lighting installations is the price of lighting equipment. Many prices, especially for LED equipment, have gone down over the last few years. For LEEP, sites are eligible if installed after January 1, 2010. Most LED fixture prices are lower today and continuing to decrease; if the payback period in the document is long, it is worth seeing if that price is true today for your site.

Year 2 Underway

LEEP is currently in Year 2 which will end in March 2015. For sites to be considered for the Year 2 awards, which will be awarded in June at the BOMA 2015 Every Building Conference and Expo, sites need to submit data in March.

Already many of the entities that participated in LEEP Year 1 have said that they will submit for LEEP Year 2. New organizations have also recently joined and expressed their intent to submit for LEEP Year 2 awards. For more information, visit leepcampaign.org.

Michael Myer is a lighting engineer with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. He can be reached at michael.myer@pnnl.gov.

TPP-2014-12-Making a Leep

Transforming Green

TPP-2014-12-Transforming Green

The U.S. Green Building Council (USBGC) was founded in 1993 to promote sustainability in the way buildings are designed, built, and operated. It developed the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system and professional credentials and hosts the annual Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, billed as the world’s largest such event dedicated to sustainable building.

Brendan Owens is vice president of LEED technical development for the USBGC and the organization’s top LEED expert and chief engineer. In this role, he represents USBGC to other standards organizations and collaborates with volunteer technical committees to advance the technical content of the LEED Green Building Rating System.

Before joining the USBGC, Owens worked designing, implementing, and verifying performance contract-based energy conservation projects in existing buildings.

He recently talked with The Parking Professional about green building and design, transportation, and how parking can make a difference in an increasing sustainability-focused society.

The Parking Professional: The USGBC has experienced a tremendous period of growth and expansion. How did you manage that kind of change? How are you leveraging it for future growth?

Brendan Owens:
It’s been an amazing ride! We haven’t been perfect, but overall I think the global emergence of LEED (10 billion square feet in 150 countries) is evidence that we got most of the big decisions right. The emergence of the global green building movement during the past 20 years is a model that we’re hoping can be replicated by other industries looking to transform. It might not be based on a rating system in every, or even most, cases but the way USGBC has created a new sense of purpose for the buildings industry certainly is.

TPP: How do you really feel about parking?

BO: I think it’s a necessary part of the way our cities have evolved, but it’s a very inefficiently used and allocated resource. I have been somewhat disheartened by the studies that suggest we have far more parking than we need but that we still struggle to deal with it well. I’m not sure what Donald Shoup’s reputation is with your readership, but many of his ideas make sense to me.

TPP: How does the USGBC see parking as part of the entire picture?

BO: From a LEED perspective, we try to be integrated in the way we encourage project teams to look at decisions. Obviously, we encourage location of projects in dense, diverse, ­transit-connected places, but not all LEED projects will fit that ideal, and while we prioritize credits related to those issues, we recognize the reality. Where a project team is responsible for parking and/or it’s necessary, we try to encourage optimization of the parking footprint across a variety of issues: minimizing the total amount, providing structured or covered parking, controlling rainwater runoff, heat island reduction, and provision of preferred parking for carpools and alternative-fueled vehicles. Parking decisions are interwoven through half a dozen or more LEED credits.

TPP: What’s been your best parking experience?

BO: Ideally, not having to. I really like to get around via bike and public transit. But some of the integrated wayfinding technology I’ve seen in Europe and at ­Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall (BWI) Airport really makes the experience much less frustrating. There was also a time when I lost my ticket and the guy at the booth just let me through. That was pretty great, but probably not a sustainable business model in the long run.

TPP: Your worst?

BO: Does 95 South Friday before a holiday weekend count?

TPP: How do you see parking and transportation as contributors to increasing sustainability?

BO: There isn’t a major piece of the built environment that isn’t crucial to the success of the overall system, but transportation occupies a place that’s unique. The average American’s carbon footprint is dominated by transportation-related fuel consumption. The best plans for new cities and communities and transformation of existing ones, in my opinion, take an integrated approach to all modes of transport—walking, cycling, buses, light rail, taxis/ride share, shared vehicles, privately owned vehicles. Parking in numerous forms—Zipcar parking, bike parking, private vehicle parking—is integral to any successful city or community plan. To the extent that parking can enable access to increasingly efficient modes of transport, it plays a critical role.

TPP: You just hosted your annual event, Greenbuild. What was your experience?

BO: As always, it was amazing. New Orleans was an unbelievable venue for Greenbuild and the conference was, by all feedback I received, a huge success. We’re in our own backyard in November 2015, and we expect Washington, D.C., to raise the ante yet again—hope you can join us!

TPP: We understand that the GBCI is going to undergo a transformation from the Green Building Certification Institute to the Green Business Certification Institute. Can you tell us more about that?

BO: During the course of the last 10 years, the market around green certifications of one kind or another grew exponentially. GBCI was established to professionalize and scale the work that USGBC was doing certifying projects with the LEED rating system and professionals with the LEED AP credential.

When GBCI was established in 2008, we invested heavily in developing infrastructure to support LEED. Our singular focus was speed-to-market transformation. We have been intentional about having core competency for certifying green buildings and communities. During the past three years, it’s become apparent that there are both scale and economic efficiencies in partnering with other organizations to leverage the GBCI infrastructure further to accelerate our speed to market. Rather than have an organization whose mission is aligned with USGBC/GBCI have to go through the process of establishing its own systems, we’re finding ways to partner and accelerate the rate at which work happens. Partnering is new leadership.

TPP: Now the GBCI will not only certify buildings under the LEED rating system but also other programs and rating systems. Can you share more about that? How will it work? Will parking be able to participate?

BO: We’ve recently formed partnerships with the International Well Building Institute to certify its WELL rating system, GRESB, and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) to leverage the infrastructure that GBCI has built over the last decade. We’re helping establish project certification infrastructure that builds on GBCI’s robust expertise. We’ve had preliminary discussions with the parking industry that have been promising. Our goal is to deliver consistent quality and establish the highest level of integrity for green certifications in the marketplace.

TPP: And that includes the Green Parking Council (GPC). How do you see its Certified Green Garage Standard evolving with the support of the USGBC?

BO: We’ve known for years that LEED in its current iteration isn’t the right measurement metric to assess parking structures. The emergence of the Certified Green Garage Standard is part of a larger trend we’re seeing for different market sectors to leverage the market transformation template LEED established. I’d like to see the Certified Green Garage Standard begin to incorporate the environmental, social, and economic prioritization process we use to establish priorities in LEED and I’m hopeful we’ll have an opportunity to collaborate with the GPC in doing exactly that.

TPP: What would you like to see happen in the parking industry?

BO: I’m hardly a parking futurist, so I think I’ll leave specific answers to this question to the true professionals in this field, but more integration with the other systems the parking industry connects into seems to be a productive path.

TPP: What advice would you give to parking owners, operators, and managers who are looking to make positive changes in their operations and facilities?

BO: Eliminating parking isn’t something we can do. But, if we can reduce the number of parking spaces that need to be constructed and make those as green as possible, then we can start to make an impact.

TPP-2014-12-Transforming Green

Making the Garage Green in Every Way

TPP-2014-12-Making the Garage Green in Every WayBy Brian Shaw, CAPP

I recently started working for Stanford University as its director of parking and transportation services. Stanford is known as one of the leading sustainable universities in the country, and a number of ranking and recognition programs have given the university high marks for its sustainability programs and initiatives. But what is not well understood or known is that Stanford has achieved so much in the sustainable realm by including all three Ps of sustainability: people, planet, and profit.

For example, Stanford is spending millions of dollars on a new energy distribution system for the campus that will, over time, save the institution money while helping make greater use of renewable energy sources. The project, known as Stanford Energy System Innovations (SESI), will facilitate the continued growth of the campus while minimizing the environmental effects and reducing energy costs.

The recently released Green Garage Certification provides the parking industry a much-needed way to account and be recognized for the growing use of sustainable parking practices. Those of us who have practiced sustainability for some time know that for a program or project to be truly sustainable, it must benefit people, planet, and the bottom line (profit) for the organization or institution.

In reviewing the certification criteria as part of a new garage being developed at Stanford, the project team found that without having to change much of the garage’s design (or adding costs to the project), it should qualify for at least a silver level of certification. There are certain items in the certification that would earn the project more points that we will not consider, but other things we’ve done for years (campus transit system, carpool parking, bike storage, using sustainable cleaning products) can be included in the certification at no additional cost.


This got me thinking: Is the green garage “green” because of sustainability or because it makes business sense to the owner? In our case, we will build this new facility to be certified as a green garage because it makes good business sense. In fact, the garage would not be able to be certified if Stanford had to include elements that were costly, unusual, or counter to current operational practices and norms. For example, the garage will have LED lights because our analysis showed this was the most cost-effective way to light the garage. The energy savings, along with the reduced maintenance costs from needing to replace fixtures less often, made the LEDs the way to go. The fact that we got points for this in the certification is a nice added value.

However, when we looked at trying to get points for locally sourcing materials and labor, that element was tossed out because in our region, labor and material come from far and wide due to housing prices and the high cost of land. It simply did not make sense from a business standpoint to insist on building the garage under those conditions. Likewise, this garage will not earn points for how any occupied space is managed because it will not feature that use. It will have a green roof but primarily to deal with stormwater runoff and replace the loss of open space the garage will occupy. A green roof is therefore a more cost-effective solution to the runoff and open space issues than building a cistern or retention basin and needing to replace the open space somewhere else.

By not spending money needlessly in the pursuit of certification points, Stanford demonstrates how new parking garages can be built to meet all aspects of sustainability: people, planet, and profit. Perhaps as the Green Garage Certification program evolves, points could be earned for projects that show fiscal responsibility while also employing sustainable practices. What could be more green than that?

Brian Shaw, CAPP, is director of parking and transportation services at Stanford University and a member of IPI’s Sustainability Committee. He can be reached at bshaw2@stanford.edu.

TPP-2014-12-Making the Garage Green in Every Way

Simplifying the EV Charging Equation

TPP-2014-12-Simplifying the EV Charging EquationBy Michael Nichols

The statistics are compelling and the pressures are mounting: It’s almost a foregone conclusion that at some point in the future, your facility will add electric vehicle (EV) charging capabilities. In other words, it’s not a matter of if, but when, your facility will adopt EV charging.

The worldwide growth rate for EV charging is projected to be 31 percent compounded annually through 2020. By then, today’s $2 billion charging industry will eclipse $7 billion. The explosive rate of growth is fueled by a variety of factors, from sustainability concerns to gas prices, and as those prices continue to increase, there will be growing consumer pressure to purchase EVs.

The Five Pressures
There are essentially five strategic and operational EV charging pressures parking facility owners/managers face:

  • Consumer pressure. Greater proliferation creates the need/opportunity to retain and attract customers by being among the first to offer EV charging.
  • Corporate/campus green initiative. Campus parking owners may have a mandate to embrace sustainable measures.
  • Altruism. There is a keen sense of commitment to do what is right for the environment.
  • Availability of rebates. Economic incentives can be applied to the installation of EV charging units, but the timing of those incentives may be limited.
  • Vendor pressure. Parking management is consistently bombarded by sales representative pressure.

Which Level?
There are three levels of stations that can be installed and operated. The difference in the levels is the power supply required, output capability, and the time it takes to fully charge a vehicle:

  • Level One requires a 120V, 15–20 AMP circuit. Ideally each EV charger would have a dedicated circuit; if not, the charge dispensed should be no greater than 8 AMP. If on a dedicated circuit, a 12 AMP charge can be dispensed.
  • Level Two requires a 240V, 20 AMP circuit that must be dedicated for each charger installed. Full charging times are generally half as long as for a Level One charger.
  • Level Three requires a 500V, direct-current circuit. Full charging can take as little as 30 minutes.

How Many?
Level One chargers are the least expensive to buy and potentially the easiest to install. They also take the longest amount of time to fully charge a vehicle—up to eight hours. As a result, the parking owner/manager who wants to offer 12 stations will need to buy 12 chargers. Level Two and Three chargers, because of their power output, take significantly less time to charge a vehicle. These chargers can be clustered and support multiple parking spots at once, potentially contributing to reduced capital expenditure and installation costs. It may make sense to offer more EV charging capacity today so you are ready for tomorrow.

Hidden Costs
One of the most important and potentially expensive considerations is power and wiring. The most prudent installation requires a dedicated electrical circuit for each EV charger. Considerations include:

  • Distance to service panels. Running conduit from the EV charging locations to the service panel can add significant costs. Clustering EV charging stations as closely as possible to your electric panel can decrease costs.
  • Service capacity. If there is little or no capacity, there could be significant additional costs involved in purchasing and installing a larger (or second) service panel.
  • Full or self-service. Consider whether the EV charging spaces will be self-serve or whether you will need to deploy additional personnel to help manage the system and prevent squatting.
  • EV charging payment. Accepting payments brings an entire level of complexity to the EV charging issue—communication wiring, credit card acceptance, PCI compliance protocols, etc.

Embracing and adopting new technologies can be exciting and provide a distinct marketing advantage and client support mechanism. At the same time, cost is an important consideration. Once the decision to install EV charging has been made, it is important to weigh the various costs that will be involved and determine how some of the costs can be minimized to provide the greatest benefit for parking customers and ownership.

Michael Nichols is executive vice president, parking, with NEXT Parking, LLC, and a member of IPI’s Consultants Committee. He can be reached at mnichols@nextrealty.com or 703.442.8809.

TPP-2014-12-Simplifying the EV Charging Equation