About Rachel Yoka

Rachel Yoka, LEED AP BD+C, CPSM, CNU-A, is vice president of program development with IPI.

Greening, but Still Critical

Rachel_Yoka 2013

The millennials will change everything right?  This next generation will change the way we live, transforming buying habits, working patterns, and transportation choices.

In a recent interview with a Huffington Post reporter, IPI staff discussed this massive generational change that is coming (in the context of sustainability, of course).  The reporter brought up an excellent point: The hippies of the ‘70s were going to have much the same effect—they were going to help create more environmentally-friendly habits, policies, and trends.  And they most certainly had an impact.  But this reporter pointed out to me that those folks are now the baby boomers, many of whom still live in the suburbs and greater than 90 percent of whom still commute and drive to nearly everywhere they want to go.

I imply zero criticism of either the millennials or the baby boomers, but this conversation affected how I think about generational change. As generations age, they also change. Their priorities shift as the world shifts.

Of all people, I believe that massive, structural change is needed to alter our current course, to preserve valuable resources that aren’t infinite, to reduce our dependency on  foreign oil, you name it.  This CityLab article, forwarded to me by Paul Wessel at the Green Parking Council, drives that point home—most of us still drive to work.

If you have any concerns that parking assets are on the way out, think again.  Our industry—including both parking and transportation—is absolutely critical, and will continue to be.

The Best Things in Life…

Rachel_Yoka 2013

Are worth waiting for, right? Sometimes you work on something for a really long time.  We have a project like that (36 months, 4 days, 17 hours and 15 minutes it took, I believe) that’s just reached the finish line: Sustainable Parking Design and Management: A Practitioner’s Handbook.

When I first entered the business world, I believed there was an immediate and direct relationship between effort and productive hours expended and a successful outcome, regardless of timeline. The faster you invested, the faster the product would be complete and it would be as good as the effort. In my years here at TimHaahs, often there were decisions I wanted us to make and projects I wanted us to start, and Tim would advise us to wait (waiting has never been my strong suit). But something special (almost always) happened in the waiting. Situations changed, additional thought was applied, and a different sort of organic evolution took place. Often, projects were improved by allowing other people to get involved or by tackling unforeseen challenges. Although it did not come naturally to me, I learned the importance of applying patience, sleeping on it, and allowing projects to grow on their own.

At long last, Sustainable Parking Design and Management: A Practitioner’s Handbook–all 188 pages of it, a joint project of IPI and NPA, is available for pre-order now, and both a hardcover and an ebook (Kindle) version will be available in just a few weeks.

This brand new book about sustainability and parking is the first of its kind. As the editor, I can say we are all very excited about it (who wouldn’t be after 36 months?). I know our authors, peer reviewers, IPI, our Board of Directors consider it a watershed moment.  This publication–a reference and technical manual for integrating sustainability into our industry–needed time to grow, to evolve, and become the very best that it could be.

Thanks so much to every person who touched the book. You have all made this one of the very best things I have had the honor and pleasure to work on.

Some projects are just worth the wait.

 

Copybooks for All

Rachael Yoka

My kids started school a week ago (finally). It is of note that they resurfaced and re-striped the parking lot over the summer. This caused a certain amount of chaos, but it was a wise investment that will improve conditions in the long run. This post isn’t actually about that, though.

My kids have classes in history, english, math, and more. I am to provide a copybook for each distinct subject–a separate, individual copybook where my son and daughter will write useful information and things worth remembering about each subject.

Sadly, most of the time this is the case. Interdisciplinary explanations, connections, and impacts from one related subject to another (history and social studies, for example) go largely unexplained and unexplored at the elementary level, which I would argue is the best time to teach about those connections. Language and math and history and art and politics cannot be cleanly separated, and to do so leaves our kids at a disadvantage.

In the “real” world, do we operate differently?

Planners plan walkable (or drivable) cities.
Architects design green buildings and contractors build them.
Engineers create complete, green streets.
Parking and transportation professionals plan and operate assets to access said cities, buildings, and streets.

Few organizations, courses, or programs address not only these honorable endeavors, but also the complex relationships, synergies, and conflicts among them. Sustainability and smart growth can serve as that umbrella concept, but what more can we do?

To IPI’s credit, through its Parking Matters® program and other industry outreach efforts and alliances, inroads are being made so related professions take a more holistic approach that includes parking.

But we have much ground to cover. We do what we learn early in life.  We have learned to silo these “subjects.” I would rather be under the colorful umbrella that captures the nuances and relationships of the subjects we learn, and the work we do.

I, for one, would support a change in that paradigm, from Kindergarten all the way up to CAPP!

 

Musings on Earth Day, Generational Change, and Radical Shifts

Rachael Yoka

Fun fact: Did you know there is actually an Earth Day anthem? I didn’t either, until I started thinking about this blog post. Apparently, itphoto is set to Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.”

Just like Mother’s Day, once a year we pull out all the stops to let Mom know how much we love her, which–in my opinion–misses the mark by 364 days. Similarly, we pull out and dust off the concept of Earth Day once a year, and concerned folks plan events and take to the streets in different ways to get the message of sustainability out to a broader audience.

I am a marketing person at heart, and nothing speaks to me more clearly than a well-executed campaign to brand a concept and increase public knowledge and awareness. So I agree that the message and intent of Earth Day is critically important (not just to us but more to our kids, and their kids). That message is getting through, and it’s ringing true for the youngest of generations.

My children are very concerned about sustainability–about recycling and pollution and baby animals everywhere (see accompanying art, copyright Sofia, age 9).The message will grow wider and deeper with each successive generation, and that is a very good thing.

But there is certainly recognition that we can’t wait for my 9-year-old to effect. We understand many of the challenges we face, and we can make changes to positively affect outcomes now.

The parking industry’s reaction to sustainability (until fairly recently) has been a reactive or responsive one. However, change is coming, and fast.

Committed leadership and dedicated volunteers are shifting our approach to a proactive one.  The International Parking Institute formally adopted its Sustainability Framework at the 2012 IPI Conference & Expo, and this year, opportunities abound to get engaged in Fort Lauderdale.

The Green Parking Council will release the Certified Green Garage Program for public comment today. IPI and the National Parking Association (NPA) are nearly finished a groundbreaking publication on parking and sustainability due out this summer. Each of these positive and meaningful leaps forward can propel us to a more radical position–one in which the parking and transportation industry helps lead the sustainability movement well into the future.

That vision and leadership is going to take 365 days a year.

 

Parking Matters® in Korea and Beyond

Rachael Yoka

People in the U.S. used to be worried when Mike Wallace of CBS’ 60 Minutes called for an in-depth interview. It often meant trouble. But, nothing could have been further from the truth when the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) recently knocked at our door with an invitation to feature Tim Haahs on a television news program in Korea. The documentary that resulted is one we are very excited about because beyond Tim’s accomplishments, the segment  explores the complexity and relevance of parking and transportation to the design of cities, both here and abroad.

In producing the documentary, KBS visited IPI headquarters and interviewed IPI Executive Director Shawn Conrad, CAE, on the role and evolution of parking. Since the airing of the show, we have received numerous inquiries about it and our transportation system. People, businesses, and governments are intrigued and challenged by parking and transportation issues and their effects on sustainability and economic development.

The world is watching, and listening, for what’s next in our industry. IPI and its members are responding to those by expanding our reach into international markets and forums in Asia, Europe, and Central and South America. We can’t wait to see what those partnerships and discussions will bring! For now, enjoy the video and let us know what you think in the comments.

 

 

The Parking Expert Travels

Rachael Yoka

I used to be a good traveling companion. At least, I thought so and people seemed to be willing to travel out of town with me.

Then I got really into parking. The more experience I gained in the parking industry, the more intrigued I became with its facilities, especially garages. I cannot pass one without going in, or at least drawing near for a closer look at how it is designed, how it operates, the technology it uses. Moth to a flame–nothing I can do about it. This pull intensifies when I am going to a new city or place, which I am fortunate enough to do quite often.

Of particular note are those structures with evidence of distress, cracking, lack of maintenance, or an overall lack of TLC. These unloved buildings get a lot of my attention. Confusing functional design also rises to the top.

I recently traveled to Florida with a parking colleague. In this case, shopping drew us to a particular garage, but that isn’t the point. Even with our two heads together, we could not figure out which way we were supposed to go. (Please, no comments about female drivers either–also not the point.) Our complaints were detailed, our position was righteous, and we were not to be quieted. We talked about the experience long after parking the car and getting where we wanted to go.

When I travel with colleagues and friends (those not fortunate enough to be directly involved with the parking industry), my experience is altogether different. When we enter a garage, they turn to me and state, very clearly, “Don’t tell us about the details. Don’t talk about the signage to the elevator, or retrofitting with energy efficient lights. By all means, do not point out where they should put the solar array!”

I suppose I should be happy that they know so much about parking, and how much goes into garages and their operation, that they no longer need my insights.

But maybe I need to make (more) friends in the parking industry to travel with.

The EEB and Parking

Rachael Yoka

Have you heard of the Energy Efficient Buildings Hub at the Philadelphia Naval Yard?

It’s something you will want to know about. The EEB Hub, as it’s called, has a mission to improve energy efficiency in buildings and essentially create an industry for retrofitting existing buildings. The goal is ambitious: to reduce energy use in the U.S. commercial buildings sector by 20 percent by 2020. The EEB Hub hosts multiple international delegations a week to showcase the best technology and act as a living laboratory to test strategies, products, and operational practices.

This is already happening in the parking industry–parking garages are ripe for retrofits with energy-efficient lighting and solar panels to cut operational costs and optimize existing facilities. For many of these retrofits, we anxiously await the numbers: have they cut their electricity consumption (and utility bills) as predicted? Are the selected technologies and products operating as expected? What is the true payback period?

Energy management has gone mainstream and is becoming a key function of asset management. In IPI’s just-released Emerging Trends in Parking Survey, 60 percent of parking professionals surveyed said energy-efficient lighting had the greatest potential to improve sustainability. (A printed report of the survey will be bound into the July issue of The Parking Professional.) You may also want to read the Lighting Study conducted by IPI with the Department of Energy. We can easily make this jump in the parking industry, and it doesn’t take a new living laboratory to do it.

Do you have success stories (or challenges) from in retrofits or energy management to share? Leave a comment below!

Garage Design: How Far We’ve Come

Rachael Yoka

How far we have come from the monolithic, gray boxes of recent memory? Pretty darn far!

Did you know that a garage is on the list of the top 100 buildings in Florida, as proposed by the Florida Chapter of the American Institute of Architects? It’s a people’s choice competition, so I suggest that all parking professionals vote for 1111 Lincoln Road.

1111 is the amazing new garage that doubles as a wedding, yoga, and meeting venue, with a Vanity Fair-featured residence on the roof. IPI featured the garage on the cover of the October 2011 issue of The Parking Professional [PDF], recognizing the new connections between functional parking and thought-provoking architecture. The Wall Street Journal also recognized the building, stating, “The structure—with thin concrete slabs at irregular heights and no exterior walls, leaving vehicles on open display—is more than a place to stash cars. It features luxury retailers at the street level, a glass box housing a clothing store on the fifth floor and a soaring space with stunning views on the seventh floor that can be rented for events—all connected by an internal staircase that spirals up like a DNA helix.”

How far we’ve come! To check out 1111 in the Florida AIA competition, click here: http://www.aiaflatop100.org.