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!

So Much to Learn!

L. Dennis Burns

I told a friend at this year’s IPI Conference and Expo in Phoenix that I couldn’t believe how much I was learning.

The pace of technological innovation continues at breakneck speed, but even more fascinating is the creative application of these advancements in parking management and sustainable transportation initiatives. Seattle, San Francisco, New York City, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., are all pursuing advanced programs that could redefine parking’s relationship with technology and our interaction with larger transportation and environmental disciplines. Somewhat ironically, despite the cutting-edge technologies and creative system design and integration, the basic elements of communication, customer service, and effective program management continue to be core issues that need to be addressed.

The innovation and product development of an increasingly diverse set of vendors and suppliers was really eye-opening. New products and services (not to mention professional colleagues) from around the globe were some of the most exciting elements of this year’s conference for me.

Equally impressive were the advancements in mid-sized municipal programs. At the top of this list are Michael Klein’s innovative program in Albany, the incredible turnaround of the Cedar Rapids parking program (now known as “Park Cedar Rapids,” led by Vanessa Rogers and Jon Rouse) following the devastating floods of 2008, and the City of Lincoln’s strong and steady progress in going from “Good to Great” under Ken Smith’s leadership. These programs show the depth and penetration of the industry’s progress.

Another key area changing how we are perceived is facility design: parking being “better integrated into the urban form” and designed with sustainability and economic development in mind. A great way to stay abreast of the innovation and industry advancement in these areas is the IPI Awards of Excellence program. Look for more on this year’s winners in the July issue of The Parking Professional.

One final note: The selection of Rachel Yoka as IPI’s Parking Professional of the Year was the perfect choice! Congratulations, Rachel!

All Roads Lead to Technology

EmergingTrends_100sq

According to a new survey released today by the International Parking Institute (IPI), technology, sustainability, revenue-generation, and customer service are the top trends in the parking industry and the things most parking professionals are looking for.

The 2012 Emerging Trends in Parking Survey was released at the IPI Conference & Expo in Phoenix, Ariz., this morning. It showed that cashless, electronic, and automatic payment systems join apps that provide real-time information about parking rates and availability and wireless sensing devices that help improve traffic management as the top in-demand technologies in the industry.

More than one-third of respondents said that demand for sustainable services is a top trend, and that they’re talking about energy-efficient lighting, parking space guidance systems, automatic payment process, solar panels, renewable energy technology, and systems that accommodate electric vehicles and/or encourage alternative methods of travel. Technologies that help people find parking faster take cars off the road; an estimated 30 percent of people driving around cities at any time are looking for parking, wasting fuel and emitting carbons.

Survey participants also said that convincing urban planners, local governments, and architects to include parking professionals in their early planning processes is a priority; doing that, they said, would help prevent many design problems in final projects. And when asked where parking should be included as a course of study in academic institutions, nearly half of the survey participants said schools of urban study, followed by business or public policy schools.

The full survey can be accessed on IPI’s website.

Rethinking Our Future

L. Dennis Burns

Eran Ben-Joseph, Ph.D., professor of landscape planning and urban planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has written a new book, ReThinking A Lot: The Design and Culture of Parking, and a feature about it for The Parking Professional [PDF], as well as a post here at the Parking Matters® Blog. Dr. Ben-Joseph makes many excellent points related to the importance and prominence of parking not only as a significant and necessary land use, but also the great potential that exists in rethinking it.

It is exciting to see the academic community beginning to recognize the significance of parking on so many levels. Donald Shoup, Ph.D., professor of urban planning at UCLA, deserves much credit for generating a greater awareness of parking to a broader audience.

Parking professionals today (I am proud to be considered one) routinely operate in a world of vision and scope that has expanded exponentially in the past decade. Parking is an exciting, multi-dimensional discipline that is more interesting, more varied, more relevant, and more valued than at any time in its history. Parking intersects with many other disciplines that today’s industry professionals are challenged to be fluent in; we know not only the fundamentals of parking management, but also those of related disciplines such as economic development, urban design, campus planning, sustainable transportation and brand development/communications, just to name a few.

Because of its importance, complexity, and specialized nature, the parking industry has two important challenges for the decade ahead: a need to prioritize education within the industry and to promote a greater awareness why Parking Matters® externally. I know that IPI has both of these priorities well in hand. The progress being made is truly exciting.

Thank you Dr. Ben-Joseph for helping to raise the level of discourse related to parking and for challenging all of us rethink how we do what we do.

Thinking Outside the Lot

Eran Ben-Joseph, Ph.D.

Guest blogger Eran Ben-Joseph, Ph.D. is professor of landscape architecture and urban planning and head, joint program in city design and development, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He is author of Re-Thinking a Lot: The Design and Culture of Parking, and of a feature in the May issue of The Parking Professional.

One look at a typical surface parking lot raises many questions: Can parking lots be designed in a more attractive and aesthetically pleasing way? Can environmental considerations be addressed and adverse effects mitigated? Can parking lots provide more than car storage? Can they be integrated more seamlessly into our built environment in a way that is not only practical but also elegant and enjoyable? What can be learned from usage behavior and the manipulation of lots by unplanned-for users such as teens, food vendors, theater companies, and tailgating sport fans?

In the May issue of The Parking Professional [PDF], I offer thoughts from my book, ReThinking a Lot: The Design and Culture of Parking. The book explores the origins of the surface lot and its influences on our culture; I think even the most mundane lot has potential to be much more. I argue, using the parking lot as an example, that molding everyday places though simple, generative interventions can transform the way we live and interact with our surroundings.

What is needed next is a renewed vision and exciting ideas for the 21st century parking lot. As a leading voice of the parking industry, the International Parking Institute champions new directions through its Awards of Excellence, which recognize outstanding design in parking. These awards encourage imagination and creativity that help find new solutions intrinsic to the function of the lot, but go beyond the typical aesthetic embellishments and illustrate potential for our future built environment. I am looking forward to hearing about this year’s winners in June.

What do you think can be done to encourage better design in surface lots?

 

The Magic of Transitional Places

L. Dennis Burns

Parking facilities are not merely temporary storage facilities for automobiles. They are also the interface or transition between the vehicular and pedestrian experience.

These modal intersections can be much more than utilitarian connection points. Consider train stations, which we associate with spectacular building forms and public areas. Union Station in Washington, D.C. and Grand Central Station in New York City come to mind as traditional examples. These environments are much more than simple transportation connection points; they have a special energy and excitement. In them, we transition from one point to another and there is a certain excitement related to movement, exploring new environments, the anticipation of a specific event, and the unknowns of a new place. All of these elements combine to create a special vitality. These places can capture and enhance the positive and magical elements that go along with being in the mode of journeying.

There are also many examples of how poorly-designed or maintained transitional places can lead to feelings of uncertainty, trepidation, and even fear. These types of experiences can have a dramatic effect on the overall experience, even if the final destination met all expectations.

Parking facilities are probably the most numerous and undervalued modal intersection points in the world. We should take a fresh look our facilities and how the experiences we generate have a direct bearing on businesses and functions that depend on us as their customer gateways.

Take a critical look at your parking facilities and re-imagine them as community gateways, designed to meet the special needs of sojourners transitioning from one mode of travel to another. The more we take on the ownership of our limited but critical segment of the journey, the more we enhance our value to our customers and our communities.

How are you enhancing your facility as a community gateway?

Stormwater Solutions: Saving Money, Saving the Earth

Mark Wright

Standing in the middle of a parking lot on a bright sunny day can play tricks on your senses. It looks like a parking lot. It feels like a parking lot. It even sounds like a parking lot.

Go out there while rain is falling, though, and you realize something different: that parking lot is actually a stormwater management system. Unfortunately, many lots make all that stormwater somebody else’s problem by simply dumping runoff into the sewer system.

Elmhurst College, Elmhurst, Ill., decided its commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainability demanded a greener approach to its parking lots, especially because the local sewer system was already capacity-challenged.

They invested in a 400-car permeable interlocking concrete pavement (PICP) parking lot. PICP is a system that includes layers of aggregate material beneath the concrete pavers that let stormwater trickle down while pollutants are filtered out.

“Using PICP allowed us to eliminate unattractive and space-consuming detention ponds,” explains Jay Womack, ASLA, LEED AP, who recommended the system to the college; he was director of sustainable design at Wight & Company, Darien, Ill., and is currently director of landscape and ecological design for WRD Environmental in Chicago. “We were designing a new LEED Registered (Silver) residence hall for the college, and making the hall’s parking lot ‘green’ by using PICP just made sense.”

PICP systems can also save money by negating the need for a separate water detention facility.

Have you used PICP in your own parking facilities? Was it for new construction or a retrofit? And what has your experience with it been so far? All comments are welcome.