LEED Parking: Can Green Parking Garages Be Certified?

LEED Certification and Parking Facilities: Reducing Environmental Footprints

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification is part of a nationwide green construction program that grants accreditation to buildings and facilities that meet demanding energy efficiency and ecological standards. Earlier in LEED’s history, there was ongoing debate as to whether or not green parking garages, as standalone structures, could qualify for LEED certification. The long and short of it boils down to this: parking facilities by themselves cannot be certified under the LEED program, but they can incorporate features that help the building, as a whole, earn certification.

In addition, after the LEED decision, a new organization and new certification arose: the Green Parking Council and Green Garage Certification, recently renamed Parksmart. To make things even more confusing, Green Building Certification, Inc., which manages LEED certification for the USGBC, now manages Parksmart certification, too. So yes, green parking garages can be certified, just not LEED certified.

Technicalities and certifications aside, there are plenty of ways to “go green” by improving energy efficiency and reducing the environmental footprint of parking facilities. Lighting systems, parking priorities, construction materials and ventilation systems can all be configured to support green initiatives.

The Impact of Efficient Lighting

While parking structures themselves may not be eligible for LEED certification, they can take part in the U.S. Energy Department’s Lighting Energy Efficiency in Parking (LEEP) initiative. When the campaign went widespread in 2014, participating partners were able to cut lighting-related energy use by a whopping 90 percent.

The program encourages parking garages to switch to energy-efficient options like fluorescent, halide and LED-powered systems. It also promotes technologies that offer better control over light activation and deactivation, ensuring energy isn’t being wasted when the facility isn’t in use.

Special Access for Drivers of Efficient Vehicles

Another strategy that’s been used in traffic-heavy areas like Southern California is to give priority access to drivers of fuel-efficient hybrid or electric vehicles. Giving these vehicles access to the most conveniently located spots raises awareness of ecological issues and rewards drivers who are doing their part to reduce carbon emissions.

Getting Creative with Construction Materials

Paul de Ruiter Architects, a Dutch building design firm, recently made waves with a bold approach to parking structure construction. The firm created a garage made completely of recyclable materials, and engineered it so it could be dismantled in the future, when sustainable modes of transportation have become the standard and dedicated parking space for cars is no longer needed.
De Ruiter’s building, known as the Mors Gate garage, also uses natural ventilation, heat recovery systems and other advanced green technologies, leading some to hail it as a new standard in parking structure design. Even though a “future without cars” is still a long way off, innovation remains a powerful weapon in the fight against pollution.

Reducing Demand

While parking facilities themselves may not be eligible for LEED, one step toward certification for your building can include reducing the number of parking spaces you offer. How can this be justified? By reducing demand. TDM programs and software like RideAmigos can have an incredible effect on shifting the way people think about and use transportation, particularly for commuting. Contact us to learn more about how your organization can reduce its parking and environmental footprints and help transform transportation.

Reduce Your Parking Footprint for LEED Credit

Earn credit toward LEED certification by reducing your building’s parking footprint

Parking spaces are expensive and are a major source of soil and water pollution. Forward-thinking companies seeking Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for their buildings can earn credit by minimizing the environmental impact of their parking facilities. If you’re planning or building a new location for your company and you want to enjoy the ecological and marketing benefits that come with LEED certification, it’s easy to take action to start reducing your parking footprint now.

LEED is the world’s most recognized green building certification. Available to buildings that meet elevated standards for energy efficiency and green design, LEED certification is more than just a way to help reduce pollution and minimize ecological impact. It also supports marketing and branding efforts by reinforcing your company’s ecologically friendly values, and it can also add to the resale price of the finished property.

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) recently announced a new program that allows builders to earn credit towards LEED certification by reducing their parking footprint. Here are the specifics:

  • To qualify, buildings must not have more than the minimum parking capacity, as defined by local code requirements.
  • Buildings can also qualify by having less parking capacity than the recommended base ratios suggested by the Parking Consultants Council (PCC), which are available in the Institute of Transportation Engineers’ Transportation Planning Handbook, 3rd Edition, Tables 18-2, 18-3 and 18-4.
  • Projects are also able to earn points by meeting LT Credit Surrounding Density and Diverse Areas, or LT Credit Access to Quality Transit requirements.
  • Projects without these LT credits must have at least 20 percent less parking capacity than the PCC base ratios.
  • Projects with LT credits must have at least 40 percent less parking capacity than the PCC base ratios.

Full program details can be viewed on the USGBC website.

Empower commuters to use alternative means of transportation to reduce your parking needs

If you’re looking to reduce your parking capacity, it’s essential that you offer alternatives to commuters and employees. Encouraging people to use environmentally responsible transportation such as ridesharing, carpooling, public transit, or biking is the best way to keep your parking requirements as low as possible. Transportation demand management software, like RideAmigos, provides powerful tools for reducing your parking needs by empowering and incentivizing people to change the way they commute. 

Our revolutionary transportation management platform offers an easy-to-use commuter trip planner, extensive ridesharing features, motivational incentive options, powerful data analysis tools, and more. We make it easy for users to skip the solo drive and affordable for organizations to reduce their environmental footprint. To learn more, check out our demo video or contact us today.

Photo Credit: Tilt Shift Parking Lot by Nic Redhead