Parking facility group embraces green practices

The seven winners of the International Parking Institute’s 2014 Awards of Excellence competition demonstrate that today’s parking structures and surface lots can be architecturally innovative. Honorees in the 32nd annual competition range from the cast-in-place, post-tensioned Park Place in Missoula, Mont., to the green 201 Claremont Street surface lot in Toronto. 

“Although they differ in appearance and use, all share a commitment to improving the cities they serve,” explains IPI Executive Director Shawn Conrad, CAE. “The 2014 winners showcase how significantly parking facilities and operations have been transformed in recent years as a result of advances in technology focused on efficiency and sustainability.

“Many are architecturally striking hubs that facilitate mass and alternative transit and a variety of pedestrian activities; others conceal their practical function with lushly planted parks that enhance the entire neighborhood. It’s fair to say parking is transforming communities, making them greener, easier to navigate, and certainly more livable.”

Winners were selected by a panel of judges that included architects, parking corporations, and city, airport and university officials.

PHOTO: International Parking Institute PHOTO: International Parking Institute

Award for Architectural Achievement—Located in the central business district of Missoula, Mont., Park Place is a five-level, 333-space public parking structure with 3,000 square feet of street-level retail space. The small site dictated a single-helix design with two-way flow. A post-tensioned structure increases the sense of height and airiness inside and improves slab durability. The use of cast-in-place concrete maximized the use of local materials and labor. State-of-the-art lighting and control systems as well as a green elevator reduce electrical load by 64 percent from energy code standards. Moreover, Park Place is net zero—an 85-kW photovoltaic array powers the parking structure.

The architectural design of Park Place is intimately linked to the landscape of Missoula and the urban context. Vibrant, perforated aluminum panels clad the parking levels, picking up the colors of the Montana hills and the sky above. The “swoop,” a curving steel tube, visually divides the earth-colored panels from the sky-colored panels on the façade, and recalls the profile of the hills surrounding Missoula. Additionally, the towers are clad with integrally colored fiber cement siding. All materials were selected for durability and graffiti resistance.

PHOTO: International Parking InstitutePARKING STRUCTURE #6
Best Design of a Parking Facility with Fewer than 800 Spaces—Parking Structure #6 exemplifies a strategic plan in Santa Monica, Calif., to retrofit, rebuild, and plan for future parking needs with a focus on sustainability. Completed in December 2013, the structure occupies a prime downtown location adjacent to the popular Third Street Promenade. Although designed to the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Silver standards, the colorful Parking Structure #6 recently earned LEED Gold certification.

The self-sustained parking structure features a powerful solar panel system (80 kW) and energy efficient lighting with sensors. There are 30 electric vehicle charging stations throughout the structure with built- in infrastructures for 130 additional charging stations. The facility has 744 parking spaces, a net increase of 400 spaces from the original structure. It provides 11 general ADA spaces and 15 van accessible ADA spaces. Additionally, there are enclosed bicycle racks on the ground level that accommodate 72 bicycles. Pedestrians are separated from the vehicles by designated walkway and concrete slap to enhance their safety.

Parking Structure #6 is an automated parking facility without on-site cashiers. Two entrances, four exits lanes and four pay-on-foot machines are operating remotely by a centralized control panel office at another location. License Plate Recognition system is also equipped to enhance vehicle inventory control and security level. Furthermore, a parking guidance system displays car counts on each level. Car counts data exports to the city’s parking website and phone app in real-time.

Best Design/Implementation of a Surface Parking Lot—Since its May 2013 opening, the Toronto Parking Authority (TPA)’s 201 Claremont Street P+ has been praised by the neighboring community for meeting and exceeding the city’s development and greening standards for surface parking facilities. The 43-space lot has created a new green precedent for TPA and inspired other authority projects now in the works. Designed in consultation with the local community, it accommodates existing and future short-term public parking while aesthetically improving its 201 Claremont Street neighborhood.

A paved area provides pedestrian connections and masonry seating areas, and a complementary lot incorporates permeable pavers in drive aisles to create a sustainable stormwater management system. High-albedo surface materials and tree plantings reduce the urban heat island effect. Furthemore, a unique living wall of live willows and raised concrete planting beds screens parking, reduces salt damage, and protects neighbors from pedestrian traffic. Primarily native plantings were specifically chosen for seasonal interest and year-round screening.


Green Parking Council launches project certification

Targeting high standards in sustainable facility design, technology, operations and management, the International Parking Institute-affiliated Green Parking Council has launched Green Garage Certification, paralleling it with the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) program.

“Green Garage Certification provides both a roadmap and assessment tool for real estate owners, developers, planners, architects, tenants, parking operators, and others to strive toward a more environmentally and economically sustainable future,” says GPC Executive Director Paul Wessel. The certification is the product of a consensus-driven program developed over several years, he adds, and was honed by external reviewers and a beta phase encompassing 40-plus facilities in the U.S. and Canada.

“[It] applies a holistic approach to garage performance and sustainability, evaluating facilities based on their achievement toward a menu of standards developed by experts from a range of related fields,” affirms GPC Chair John Schmid. “This program demonstrates the parking industry’s commitment to a greener future.”

Independent, registered Green Garage Certification Assessors are being trained by the Council and may be tapped to guide applicants through the process. A free Green Garage Certification guide, with case studies, application procedures, program requirements, and a breakdown of criteria by certification level is available online at The 195-page, Green Garage Certification Standard, defining the program’s performance measures and documentation requirements, can be purchased for $49.95 at the same address, or in a forthcoming Kindle version at Additional information can be obtained from Trevyr Meade, 203/672-5891; [email protected].