On Two Wheels

Brett Wood

I just spent a month in Key West, soaking up some fun and sun. You know what I figured out on day one? Parking was a pain in the you-know-what!

On day two, I dusted off a Schwinn cruiser in the storage shed in the backyard and became a bike advocate. The whole island opened up and the world was my oyster. Parking was a breeze—no payment required and normally I could drive right up to my destination and find a bike rack waiting for my two-wheeled stallion.

Bike parking is often an overlooked component of our industry, but it’s one that’s becoming increasingly popular and important. In a recent study we completed for the City of Tempe, Ariz., bike parking was front and center. Where do you put it? Who does it serve? Who maintains it? The answer is not as cut-and-dry as putting in a bike rack and calling it a day. It is imperative that the business community and the municipality work together to implement bike parking that complements the transportation network, promotes safe riding conditions, and provides mutual benefits to parkers, cyclists, businesses, and the community as a whole. Easy right?

Well, take a look at Fort Collins, Colo. There, industry leaders partnered with local businesses to achieve a common goal of promoting bicycle ridership. New Belgium Brewery, which started as a mom-and-pop brewery and has grown to national fame, sponsors portions of the bike parking program, providing racks for on-street bike parking and partnering with the city for educational campaigns. Their Tour de Fat campaign has expanded exponentially and is now in 10 cities across the U.S., providing bike riding education and promotion. And the city does its part by properly planning for bike parking needs, taking bike counts (similar to vehicular occupancy counts) and assessing bike demands in certain locations, and communicating with business owners about providing appropriate bike parking.

These types of partnerships actively promote bike riding and its importance in the fabric of our communities (Check out the September issue of The Parking Professional to learn what Yale’s bikeshare program did for that area). Before dismissing bike parking as an unnecessary component of your system, take the time to understand your community and the positive effect it might have on the social, economic, health, and congestion components of your society.

Our Changing Industry

Doug Holmes

The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s song starts, “It was 20 years ago today,” but in my case, it was 45 years ago. I, along with several other young people, was selected by Rotary International to represent our respective countries through the Rotary Youth Exchange program, living for a year overseas and being immersed in an entirely different culture.

Fortunately, the country I went to—Sweden—was populated by friendly, outgoing, and caring people; I didn’t understand a lick of their language when I arrived on August 4, 1969. But in 45 years, there has not been a day I haven’t reflected on someone or a place or an event during that year.

How does that relate to the wonderful world of parking? After a 10-year career as a cop, I jumped into parking in 1986. It had to be easier than dealing with drunks, physical altercations, and the mind-numbing process of shift rotations and court days. Nine to five, Monday through Friday, with weekends and holidays off—how hard could it be?

For one thing, parking was a cash-rich environment; back then, there were few computer systems (I had a typewriter on my desk). Tracking that cash was a huge consumer of time. Anyone not inside of the industry had no concept of the dynamics of parking. It was generally an afterthought.

Modernization was slow to start. The highest-tech gadget available was the electronic single-space parking meter. Things such as multi-space parking meters, pay by space, pay on foot, etc., moved forward in Europe, but not here. Thankfully, in the last decade, there has been a revolution in parking technology.

I remember wanting to purchase a PARCS for our operation to link all three of our garages together. I wanted all remote devices hosted on a single network so that I could view real-time activity from my office across campus. Vendors looked at me as if I had a third eye before delivering a lecture on how that was not really what I needed.

Today, the applications of technology seem endless. It has created a new and evolving language we’re all learning. The social effects are astounding. Computer-driven lighting systems and new luminaires are reducing the consumption of electricity and positively affecting the environment.

New materials and construction techniques are extending the lifespans of parking decks. Everywhere we look, the technological revolution that was so long in coming is growing exponentially. GPS applications are locating open spaces for drivers, who pay for parking with their phones. Efficiencies in locating parking, of course, leads to a decrease in gasoline consumption and a reduction in pollution. All of this is good.

A complete change of culture is in swing. In other words, parking is shifting, and rather quickly. Like being plunged into the foreign land of Sweden many years ago, change can be painful or it can be exhilarating, vexatious or liberating.

Welcome to the brave new world of parking.

Glow in the Dark

Isaiah Mouw

If you happen to be driving through the Netherlands along the N329 highway anytime soon, you might suddenly feel like you’re driving through a Wachowski Brothers movie set. Studio Roosegaarde has developed glow-in-the-dark road markings that were recently installed along a 500m stretch of highway.

Typical road markings are made of reflective paint, but still often require energy-consuming streetlights to guide the way. The glow-in-the-dark road markings installed in the Netherlands charge using the sun during the day and then glow at night, eliminating the need for an abundance of streetlights and saving energy and maintenance dollars. Further plans for this concept involve creative solutions such as snowflake images that would glow on the pavement when the temperature drops below a certain point to remind drivers to be cautious of ice. This reminds me a lot of the Solar Roadways concept of using LED lights in solar-powered road panels to deliver safety messages to drivers as they drive along the highway.

All that said, I’m not sure if these phosphorescence markings would be of much to use to the parking industry. It would be neat to have parking lot spaces and signage glow in the dark, but not at the cost of eliminating lighting and decreasing the overall sense of safety in your facility.

What do you think?

Global Warming: Does It Matter?

Jeff_Pinyot

If you want good dinner conversation, place at least one liberal and one conservative together at a dinner table and insert a bottle of Pinot Grigio, a nice appetizer, and perhaps the suggestion of global warming for conversation.

The parking industry is often referred to in discussions of the effects of environmental change, so it seems that we have the right to have an opinion on the subject.  When our company is asked what environmental effect our lights have on carbon emissions, we often equate it to X numbers of cars being taken off the road. It actually seems a little stupid to tell Parking Company A that if they use our lights, it will be like taking 50 cars (paying customers) off the road.  I know it really doesn’t effect the number of cars in actuality, but it does seem like a silly analysis given the facts.  Perhaps we should talk about the effect as X number of new trees planted.

We’re not the only ones to have opinions on the environment, of course. Why is it that every celebrity believes himself to be an authority? Could you imagine George Clooney saying, “In ‘Gravity,’ I played an astronaut, which means that I would have probably gone to Purdue University, which means that I should probably be pretty smart, so I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that global warming is for real…I think.”

Silly, right? Here’s what he really said: “If you have 99 percent of doctors who tell you ‘you are sick’ and 1 percent that says ‘you’re fine,’ you probably want to hang out with, check it up, with the 99. You know what I mean? The idea that we ignore that we are in some way involved in climate change is ridiculous. What’s the worst thing that happens? We clean up the earth a little bit? What’s the worst thing that happens? We clean up the earth a little bit?”

I agree with him: cleaning up the earth is a good thing no matter what you believe about climate change. The bottom line is, we should leave the world in at least the same shape as we got it, no worse, and preferably better.

The Rebel Goes Sustainable: Harley-Davidson Unveils Electric Bike

KimFernandezJan2014

Sustainability, meet James Dean. Believe it or not, Harley-Davidson just unveiled its first electric bike. And from all appearances, it is sweet.

Photo credit: Harley-Davidson

Harley-Davidson

I was the girl swooning over the flat-black Harley parked just inside the entrance of the 2014 IPI Conference & Expo earlier this month. There’s a four-wheel-drive familymobile parked in my driveway for now, but my inner daredevil has always loved open air and speed. Roller coasters, Waverunners, two-seater airplanes–bring it. My husband pulling a 200cc Vespa into our garage two years ago was more than I could stand, and a few months, one class, 10 hours on a Honda Rebel in brutal D.C. heat and humidity, and one test later, I happily stood in line at the MVA to add an M-class endorsement to my driver’s license (earning, I might add, serious cool-mom points for a little while).

Honda and BMW make some gorgeous, very refined bikes, but Harley has remained the gold standard of American two-wheeled muscle. An electric motorcycle with their badge was sure to raise eyebrows, and it has–everybody from car gurus to tech wizards is talking about it.

Harley officials say Project LiveWire is a “customer-led moment” in its history. In other words, even their customers want to go a little greener. But make no mistake–this bike is edgy, launching with a 30-dealership tour along Route 66 and promising “a visceral riding experience with tire-shredding acceleration and an unmistakeable new sound” officials compare to a fighter jet on an aircraft carrier. The Los Angeles Times, which tested the bike ahead of its launch this week, called it a “fired up, amped-up monster.” Their test saw it go from zero to 60 in less than four seconds before it topped out at 92 mph. Not too shabby for an EV. The flip side, of course, is range: newspaper testers said it’ll go about 30 miles on a single charge (three and a half hours) in high-performance mode, and about 53 miles in power-saving mode. Harley says that range will improve before the LiveWire goes on sale to consumers in about two years.

Will it attract traditional Harley riders? Only time will tell. But is it a smart move for Harley-Davidson given the wishes of the next driving generation? Absolutely. Looks like we’ll need charging stations for flashy, crazy-fast, rebel bikes before too long. Who saw that coming? (And how do I get on the test-drive list?)

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.

 

Announcing a New Green Parking Book

Shawn Conrad

We call it the “Green Book” for short, but you can now pre-order from IPI the 176-page Sustainable Parking Design and Screen Shot 2014-05-05 at 9.35.32 AMManagement: A Practitioner’s Handbook as an ebook or limited-edition hardcover at pre-release discounted prices.

The idea for this book began with Tim Haahs, PE, AIA, of Timothy Haahs and Associates, Inc., long time IPI Board member and the consummate parking professional, who also sat on the National Parking Association’s (NPA) Consultants Council.  Tim envisioned this book as a joint industry project, and IPI and NPA have worked together for the past three years to bring it to publication.

More about the book, including a listing of chapters, is available at parking.org/greenbook.

I know “it takes a village” is a cliché, but this book really is the result of many talented people devoting a lot of time to the effort, no one more than book editor and IPI Board member Rachel Yoka, LEED AP BD+C, CNU-A. She deserves accolades and gratitude from everyone in the parking industry for seeing this project through.

The book’s chapter authors and peer reviewers also deserve thanks for their important contributions:

Ryan Astrup, M Arch (Prof) Assoc., AIA
Dennis Burns, CAPP
Michael Cramer
Gary Cudney
Chuck Cullen, CAPP, CPP
Matt Feagans
Vicky Gagliano, LEED AP
Casey Jones, CAPP, MPA
Erin Kueht, P.E., LEED AP BD+C
Megan Leinart, LEED AP BD+C, CNU-A
David LoCoco
Jerry Marcus
Mark Martin
Patrick D. Martin, P.E.
Shannon Sanders McDonald, AIA
Isaiah Mouw, CAPP, CPP, LEED GA
Raju Nandwana
Gary Neff
H. Dean Penny, P.E.
Gerard A. Rewolinski
Steven J. Roloff, PE, LEED AP
Brian Shaw, CAPP
Dave Sheldon, LEED AP
Michelle Wendler, AIA
Timothy T. Wendt, PE, LEED AP
Paul Wessel
Brett Wood, CAPP
Rachel Yoka, LEED AP BD+C, CNU-A
James M. Zullo, CAPP

Featured in the book are more than 20 case studies of facilities that have incorporated sustainable elements and which provide vital information and lessons learned.

IPI’s mission is to advance the parking profession. In our education and outreach efforts we focus on this triad: Technology. Customer Service. Sustainability.

This book is a milestone for our industry. I encourage you to learn from and delight in its pages.

A heads-up: The hardcover version of Sustainable Parking Design and Management: A Practitioner’s Handbook will be a limited-edition. Both the hardcover and ebook may be pre-ordered now at introductory (and IPI member discounted) prices at parking.org/greenbook.

It’s an exciting day for the parking industry!

 

 

 

 

 

The Growing Green Movement

I just returned from a week-long cruise with my wife and four children. A cruise is not really classified as a green activity. The immense consumption that takes place on board as compared with the desperate poverty that can be witnessed in virtually every port is a cataclysmic reality-check of the wide crevasse between the haves and the have-nots of this unequal world.

One could overthink this cultural divide, or one could look to learn lessons from the people and societies of the various ports of call. I chose the latter.

It has been said over and again that out of poverty comes ingenuity. That was seen in spades along the way in beautiful artwork made from scrap metals to beautiful papers made from recycled fabric. What really showed in the ports of call was the pride of the artisans.

What we call the green movement in the U.S. came out of our consciousness (because of our plenty), but in these developing areas, it comes from necessity. Could we do better? Absolutely! What new renewables can we embrace moving forward? Three that caught my eye on the trip were cork, bamboo, and hemp.

Cork: Cork farmers harvest the outer layers of a cork tree every nine to 12 years. The bark grows back and can be re-harvested up to 12 times from a single tree. A cork tree is not killed in the action of harvesting the product, which is completely renewable. It is as durable and long-lasting as leather and has a very promising future.

Bamboo: The bamboo tree can grow up to four feet in a single day. Bamboo is a great product for flooring and other building products and some of the softest clothing you can buy. This product, raised properly, will play a vital role in the future economy.

Hemp: Hemp’s rapid growth cycle and strong characteristics make it a wonderful product for making textiles and building materials. Look to see hemp take a strong role in the future. Check out the age of this comment from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture:

“Hemp is the miracle plant of our time, breathing in four times the carbon dioxide (CO2) of trees during its quick 12-14 week growing cycle. Trees take 20 years to mature vs 4 months for Industrial hemp! Our forests are being cut down 3 times faster than they can grow! One acre of hemp produces as much cellulose fiber pulp as 4.1 acres of trees!” (Dewey & Merrill. Bulletin #404. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. 1916)

What does all this mean for parking? That remains to be seen–greening has a big future ahead, and it’s going to be a great ride.

The Solar Parking Lot

Isaiah Mouw

The Wright Brothers started in a garage. Amazon started in a garage. Hewlett Packard and Disney both started in garages. Mattel started in a garage. The Ramones started in a garage. And the world’s first solar roadway started in a… parking lot. The Solar Roadways team just finished up the world’s first solar parking lot.

Scott and Julie Brusaw stand beside the Solar Roadways prototype parking lot

Scott and Julie Brusaw stand beside the Solar Roadways prototype parking lot

You might remember Scott and Julie Brusaw from their presentation at the 2013 IPI Conference &Expo or the feature in the February 2013 issue of The Parking Professional. They told us of their dreams to pave the world’s highways with high-tech solar panel roadways. Their purpose is to replace our nation’s deteriorating highway infrastructure and crumbling power grid with an intelligent highway system that pays for itself through the generation of electricity and doubles as an intelligent, self-healing, decentralized power grid. With the completion of this parking lot, they are one step closer to their dream.

“One of the biggest challenges of this phase was to explore and test various glass surfaces and textures and test them for strength, traction, and durability and all test results have exceeded our expectations. In addition to the solar cells, the panels contain heaters to keep them snow and ice free and LED lights for road lines and verbiage”, says Scott Brusaw. You can check out the pictures of the prototype parking lot here.

The parking industry can once again lead the way by donating to Solar Roadways’ Indiegogo crowdsource fundraising campaign which goes live on Earth Day (April 22). They plan to raise funds to be used to hire a team, plan for production and gear up for manufacturing, one parking lot at a time. It’s a fascinating project, and I’ll report back as new developments arise.

Mobility as Service

L. Dennis Burns

I recently embarked on a new area of research: multi-modal mobility as a service (as opposed to a product one might own). This brings together many elements from the fields of transportation and mobility, emerging technologies, environmental sustainability, changing demographic trends, and communications advancements. It is related to the concept of the connected traveler in that it embraces and leverages our new abilities to easily access a range of combined mobility services via smartphones and, increasingly, vehicles and other devices. Integrated mobility services offer new and easy ways to access options that can be tailored to better meet customer needs and address a range of issues related to the fact that soon, nearly two-thirds of the world’s population will live in megacities.

The future of urban public transportation lies in mobility systems that provide bicycles, cars, and other transportation modes on demand. Most mobility assets will be shared instead of owned by users–a phenomenon known as shared-use mobility. Convenient and reliable lifestyle and mobility services will be offered to connected citizens who will be able to easily access them via their smartphones. These services will become viable alternatives to car ownership, as they are more tailored to customer needs and will ultimately be more cost effective and environmentally sustainable, and reflect the lifestyle choices of a new generation.

Combined mobility services take the concept of shared-use to a new level, recognizing that desires for flexibility and efficiency are further advanced when shared-mobility solutions can be offered in an integrated platform. For service providers making the transition to combined mobility services, these developments offer a real opportunity to deliver sustainable growth during the next decades.

Many of these new services are delivered as apps that connect the different participants. For example, Washington, D.C.-based RideScout integrates data from a host of different providers, including those offering carshare, bikeshare, fixed-route transit, and ride services.

Another intriguing model is Zappos’ Project 100, which aims to create a seamless network of 100 on-demand chauffeured Tesla sedans, 100 shared vehicles, 100 shared bikes, and 100 shared shuttle bus stops that a phone app optimally assigns to each subscriber who inputs a destination. This mixed-mode concierge service could be the next level of the concept of mobility as a service.

The parking industry has much to contribute to this new mobility future. After all, shared use is already an emerging trend within our industry. I am in the process of developing several new concepts for existing clients who are ready to take the next step toward combined mobility. I encourage you to learn more about this exciting area. Together, we can help develop strategies that will allow the parking profession to be a creative force for applying combined mobility solutions for the future. I hope you will join me for the ride!

 

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!

 

My Worst Nightmare: The Parking Death Spiral

Casey Jones 4x5 (2)

This term “death spiral” conjures up images of nothing good in my mind. As a kid, I had a frequent nightmare about jumping off the bridge of a huge ship and spiraling downward without being able to stop my free-fall. Luckily, I’d always wake before hitting the water, where I’d certainly perish.

In a real death spiral, the thing spiraling (organization, state, business, or person) continues a downward progression that only accelerates as conditions worsen. Mounting inertia grows, making revival nearly impossible.

I recently returned from the Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT) annual University Summit, which brought together 60 transportation demand management (TDM) and parking professionals to talk about university parking and transportation. Some of the schools most successful in advancing the use of alternatives to driving were there, including Stanford, the University of Washington, Arizona State, and the University of Colorado. The topic of the death spiral was prominent at this conference and worthy of further consideration.

Most higher education parking departments are self-supporting auxiliaries. This means that no outside resources are provided, and programs and services are funded through parking fees and fines. Alternative transportation programs have become increasingly important to universities in reducing driving, furthering sustainability goals, and enhancing the pedestrian environment.

There is, from our perspective, a downside. As more people find alternative ways to reach campus, (bike, bus, carpool, walk) revenue streams and expenses are affected. The more successful an institution is in shifting people away from single-occupancy cars, the fewer parkers there are to fund the entire parking and transportation program. This creates a spiraling effect that can result in financial instability.

Some might argue that the obvious response is to abandon alternative transportation altogether. While I’d disagree wholeheartedly with that approach, I do believe that the traditional funding model for higher education parking and transportation may be incompatible with alternative transportation goals. A new model is needed. The strategic partnership between IPI and ACT offers the best chance of coming up with a new model to help us all avoid a TDM and parking nightmare.

Getting a Charge

Dave Feehan

Last week, I bought a new plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt. I previously drove an all-wheel-drive Ford Edge because I was doing a lot of work in Pittsburgh, and the winter drive through the mountains from Washington, D.C. can be challenging. With that consulting contract winding down, I was primed for something much more economical but didn’t want to sacrifice comfort.

I looked at several hybrids and a couple of diesels, but the Volt seemed like the best option, especially because General Motors has spiced up incentives. With current tax credits, a $40,000 Volt can be purchased for well less than $30,000. After a week of in-town driving, I hadn’t spent a dime on gas, because I recharge every night. On the round-trip to Pittsburgh, I averaged almost 40 miles per gallon (mpg). The Volt handles much better than my Edge did, and because it’s a hatchback, luggage space for my wife and me was more than adequate.

The transition hasn’t been without its challenges, though. Places to recharge other than home are almost nonexistent–I couldn’t find a charging station in any of the parking garages I used. Charging seems like a great service for the growing number of customers with plug-ins, and it could be a money-maker for garage owners and operators. Why not reserve a small number of spots (next to handicapped spots, close to elevators?) for plug-in drivers? Why not advertise that your garage is “plug-in friendly?”

I’m convinced that many (if not most) of us will be driving something other than conventional, gas-powered vehicles within 10 years, especially if car manufacturers are going to meet federal corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards. Plug-ins such as the Volt seem to make a lot of sense because most trips are less than 50 miles and they can extend their range by switching to gas when necessary. Charging kiosks will, admittedly, be expensive to install, but the payback should be reasonable, and even with a surcharge for profit, most plug-in drivers would rather spend a couple bucks on a charge than $60 filling the tank.

Industry analyst Lisa Jerram estimates there will 150,000 public charging stations in the US by 2020. This looks like a great opportunity for folks in the parking industry.

The Times They Are A-Changin’

paul_wessel

“The slow one now

Will later be fast…”

-Bob Dylan

Without a doubt, we are experiencing the birth of a multi-modal, poly-fuel future in which parking facilities will play a greater role as fueling stations and mode-shifting enablers.

I write this post from an Amtrak train on the way from New Haven, Conn., to Philadelphia, having walked through a New Haven Parking Authority garage housing scores of bicycles, a handful of Zipcars®, and an electric vehicle (EV) charging station in addition to the hundreds of cars long found there. The pace of what we will see in garages and how we will get to those garages is, shall we say, rapidly changing.

The latest sign of this is Tesla’s announcement of a highway rest stop-based fueling option for its battery powered cars that promises to be faster than filling your gas tank.  Planned to sit near the free fast-charging stations already in place on rest stop parking lots, the new premium battery swap stations will cost drivers $60 to $80 for 200 miles worth of fuel that’s ready to go in 90 seconds.

The luxury Tesla, awarded Consumer Reports’ highest rating ever, lost one point in that rating because of the hassle of charging for long-distance trips. With its 90-second battery swapping announcement, Business Week reports, “Tesla took a major stride toward getting rid of that downside.”

While few of us may ever be able to afford a Tesla, the life cycle of consumer good technology innovation has always been led by expensive, early-adopter products.  (Some of you may remember both the size and cost of the first cell phones to hit the market.)

And Tesla’s approach to feeding your car in the parking lot may not prove to be the approach that succeeds. CNET’s Car Tech blog criticizes the Apple-like proprietary nature of Tesla’s charging and battery-swapping approach as a “dead end” that’s good for Tesla but bad for electric car development in general, arguing instead for an open-source, universal approach that charges all electric vehicles.  Established auto manufacturers–whose cars most of us may be more likely to buy–are agreeing on charging standards to help the industry roll out; see, for example, the recent announcement of BMW and General Motors on a common fast charging approach.

The order may not (yet) be “rapidly fadin’,” but it’s clear from what we are seeing on the electric vehicle and hybrid front; T. Boone Pickens’ network of natural gas fueling stations for trucks; and Citi bike in New York City: transportation is becoming a many splendored affair. As we find new and varied ways to fuel our mobility, garaging our vehicles will be an increasingly creative undertaking.

A Bi-Partisan, Multi-Generational, Earth-Friendly Effort

paul_wessel

I’m still wishing everyone a happy 43rd Earth Day! It’s a sentiment I think we should try to keep alive beyond a date on the calendar. Bearing in mind philosopher George Santayana’s admonition that, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” I did a little Googling on Earth Day’s history.

What I found on Earthday.org was stunning: leaders used to disagree without being disagreeable! Here’s how Earthday.org describes it:

The idea for Earth Day came to founder Gaylord Nelson (then a U.S. senator from Wisconsin), after witnessing the ravages of the massive 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, Calif. Inspired by the student anti-war movement, he realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, environmental protection would be forced onto the national political agenda. Senator Nelson announced the idea for a “national teach-in on the environment” to the media, persuaded conservation-minded Republican Congressman Pete McCloskey to serve as his co-chair, and recruited Denis Hayes as national coordinator. Hayes then built a national staff of 85 to promote events across the land.

As a result 20 million Americans took to streets, parks, and auditoriums in massive rallies across the country on April 22, 1970, to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable world. Thousands of college and university students organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that fought against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.

Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city slickers and farmers, tycoons and labor leaders. The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species acts. “It was a gamble,” Gaylord recalled, “but it worked.”

Two television broadcasts from that time capture both the passion and diversity of the emerging movement as well as the civility with which we used to disagree:

http://www.hulu.com/watch/67649

http://www.hulu.com/watch/67637

I’m glad to be part of a group of people in the parking, auto, real estate and technology industries keeping the optimism of 43 years ago alive today. Keep your eyes open for a wonderful spring blossoming from the Green Parking Council:  Check out an advance copy of our Green Garage Certification Public Beta (alternate site for easier downloading and printing) and join us in keeping the spirit of Earth Day alive 365 days a year.

 

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.

 

IPI Part of DOE’s Workplace Charging Challenge

Casey Jones 4x5 (2)
DSC05123

U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu explains the Workplace Charging Challenge
at the Washington Auto Show

IPI has worked tirelessly to earn parking a seat at the table and the fruits of those labors were very evident yesterday, when I had the opportunity to represent the industry at the Department of Energy’s Workplace Charging Challenge Roundtable.  This event, which assembled leaders from major automakers, telecommunications, high-tech, and energy companies, is part of a broad and aggressive effort to expand the number of plug-in electric (PEV) cars in use across America and make them an affordable, reliable, and convenient alternative to fossil-fueled vehicles.  In a word, the goal of this program is to finally “mainstream” PEVs in an effort to address environmental and economic sustainability concerns. The ubiquity of charging stations at places of employment is viewed as an important step toward increasing the likelihood that consumers will feel comfortable investing in an EV.

As a Workplace Charging Challenge program Founding Ambassador, IPI has committed to lead an effort that will encourage the installation of charging stations in parking facilities that serve places of work.  We will do this by capitalizing on our vast and engaged membership, by leveraging the work already underway in our sustainability committee, and through established strategic partnerships with other organizations.

Announcing the Challenge yesterday, Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu issued a challenge to employers to increase the number of chargers available to their employees tenfold in the next 10 years, saying that offering charging stations for workers increases their flexibility and is “incredibly useful.”

“The thrill of driving by a gasoline station and smiling is one everyone should experience,” he said.

The fact that IPI was invited to be part of this effort is a reflection of the influence and respect we’re earning as an association, and a signal that those outside of our industry are acknowledging that parking really does matter. And while being invited to take part in such a prestigious and important event is truly a mark of success, we cannot rest on our laurels.

Howard Skipper, a scientist working on a cure for leukemia  in the 1970s, once said this about the importance of taking action on critical problems even when all the answers aren’t known: ” We cannot afford to sit and wait for the promise of tomorrow so long as stepwise progress can be made with tools at hand today.” Skipper’s words ring true today on the topic of sustainability. To keep our seat at the table we must act with dispatch and do our part in this and other key efforts.

Read IPI’ s news release here and the Department of Energy’s  news release here.

 

Transforming Transportation

paul_wessel

I spent a day and a half last week at “Transforming Transportation,” at the opulent headquarters of the World Bank in Washington, D.C., with hundreds of big thinkers from China, India, Russia, Latin America, and elsewhere. There was lots of excitement about ways sustainable transport can expand mobility while avoiding congestion, air pollution, and reliance on imported fuels. They also got it that Parking Matters®; as the mayor of Quito, Ecuador, pointed out, “If we keep current car ownership trends, we will have to park on the moon.”

German climate and transportation expert Daniel Bongart argued that “Parking pricing, congestion charging, license plate auctions are keys to financing sustainable transport.” We heard about solving the “last mile” problem for parkers and commuters in Hangzhou, China, with “The Biggest, Baddest Bike-Share in the World.” Now boasting 240,000 trips per day on more than 60,000 RFID-tracked bicycles, it is projected to grow to 175,000 bikes by 2020.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, keynoting with World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, emphasized that transportation change can happen quickly at the city level where the streets–and parking–are controlled. He’s working with mayors of the world’s megacities to reduce carbon emissions and increase energy efficiency around the globe. Their C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, recognized Park(ing) Day last year.

The event affirmed that people from across the globe are realizing Parking Matters®. The response to my supplementing the handouts on the official table with Green Parking Council and Green Garage Certification information was so strong that I had to keep replenishing the stack!  As the parking industry pulls together to help parking become part of the solution, the solution-seekers are realizing our contributions.

That’s a very good thing. The challenge is profound and upon us as World Bank President Kim compellingly explained, “If things go badly, by the time my three-year-old son is my age, the oceans will be 150 percent more acidic, coral reefs will be melted away, fisheries will be completely disturbed, and every single day, food fights and water fights will occur somewhere in the world. Working on transport is part of this moral responsibility we have to the cities of today, and to future generations.”

I Want To Be Like Lebron James

Wanda Brown

If there ever was a great example of the benefits of biking, it was printed in a recent South Florida Sun Sentinel newspaper story entitled, “Bike rides keep LeBron James in peak physical condition.” Basketball star James began with an occasional ride to practices but soon made the decision to bike in more often to morning shootarounds and games. There was a progressive decision to bike to events rather than drive his expensive car. Why would he choose such an unglamorous mode of transportation after having worked so hard to buy that car? The answer is durability. The added conditioning his body developed as a result of biking to practices and the games resulted in “logging 42 minutes in the most routine of games.”

I’m very interested in James’ decision to make the change from four wheels to two. Did the difference in his endurance prompt him to escalate his frequency of biking, or was it his increased performance? From my perspective as a parking professional, it’s important to understand the things that affect human behavior when implementing a sustainability program, especially in a health system environment. What makes a person choose biking over driving a luxury vehicle?

Many comments from those who participate in biking programs often say that biking results in clarity in critical thinking, increased energy to endure long work hours, and the ability to manage stress while maintaining a positive attitude. Like James has found, biking has some valuable outcomes that cannot be ignored. This is why our industry’s sustainability efforts are critical to the improved health of our parking professionals and our customers. What are you doing that helps you get through the day?

Help Wanted: Corporate (Parking) Sustainability Officer

Casey Jones 4x5 (2)

I believe there are three primary drivers of sustainability especially among corporate entities: profitability (when businesses see that pursuing sustainable practices does not mean profits must be sacrificed); convenience (when businesses make and sell the connection between sustainability and convenience); and a balance of carrots and sticks (when government sets the rules so there is an even playing field and incentives and penalties help businesses transition to a more sustainable way of doing business). If this is the “what” in the next wave of sustainability, the next logical question might be who will bring about this change.

The presence of corporate (or chief) sustainability officers (CSOs) is becoming commonplace among the most successful companies. AccountAbility CEO Sunil A. Misser offers that CSOs are typically responsible for reducing costs by improving energy, supply chain, and resource efficiencies; establishing processes to monitor, manage, and mitigate sustainability-related risks; managing and monitoring stakeholder engagement processes that spearhead innovations to increase revenue; and enhancing the reputation of the company and the value of the brand. Misser goes on to point out that the number of CSOs has increased recently for three main reasons:

  1. CEOs and business leaders have realized there is tremendous value to be gained by mainstreaming sustainability into business practices.
  2. Companies are increasingly approaching sustainability with the same level of discipline (i.e. planning, execution, measurement, reporting) that is demanded in every other functional area.
  3. Companies have been pressured to elevate sustainability to the C-suite by regulators, media, shareholders, consumers, competitors, and other stakeholders.

Sustainability is expanding rapidly into the parking industry, and great work is being done in many places. But it may be that we haven’t yet resourced our efforts appropriately until we do as many successful corporate entities have by adding the strategic position of corporate or chief sustainability officer to our leadership teams. From parking management company to manufacturer and service provider, now might be the time to add a CSO to your leadership team to ensure that you make the most of your sustainability efforts.

Solar Roadways and Parking Lots

Isaiah Mouw

I recently stumbled across this video about Solar Roadways. The concept involves turning roadways and parking lots into solar panel road surfaces that generate electricity. Inventor and co-founder of the Solar Roadways project Scott Brushaw explains, “There are 25,000 square miles of road surfaces, parking lots and driveways in the lower 48 states. If we covered that with solar panels with just 15 percent efficiency, we’d produce three times more electricity than this country uses on an annual basis and that’s almost enough to power the entire world. Roads are collecting heat anyway; this thing collects the power and stores it.”

One concern was creating glass strong enough to support the heaviest loads under the most extreme conditions, but they believe they’ve created a weatherproof, high-strength surface that’s up to the task. But the biggest concern is, of course, cost. One of these solar panels (12’x12’) can cost up to $7,000, and the plans to cover the roadways would call for billions of these panels. Do the math.

The Solar Roadway project recently received a $750,000.00 grant to build the first solar surface parking lot. With an estimated industry average cost of $4,000.00 per space to construct a parking lot, this $750,000 is not as large as it first seems. These solar panels consist of embedded LEDs that can be used to create crosswalks or traffic warnings. They could also be used to mark parking spaces. Imagine being able to change your layout design any day of the week, depending on your demand. These panels will also have the capability to charge electric vehicles while parked. The system will warm itself during the winter to melt away any snow or ice. The Solar Roadways team should have the parking lot completed in November and will be presenting the results shortly after.

This is not just a sustainability issue. Yes, it is very sustainable as the renewable energy from the proposed Solar Roadways project would literally cut greenhouse gases in half. But it may also make economic sense sometime in the future. The cost of petroleum-based asphalt continues to rise, while solar power has been falling at a rate of 7 percent per year for the last 30 years.  As technology improves each year, the cost of solar technologies should continue to drop. Solar panel surface parking lots could pay for themselves quickly as they generate renewable energy in the future.

To me, solar road surfaces is an important aspect  of the future of parking. Not this decade or even the next, but down the road, I think we will all be parking on solar surfaces.

 

New Ways of Thinking

The Parking Matters Blog Avatar

By Casey Jones, CAPP and Rachel Yoka, LEED AP BD+C

Today, Oct. 18, 2012, is National Alternative Fuel Vehicle Day. One might take this news as little more than novel. Sure, maybe someone in the neighborhood has a Prius or perhaps you’ve seen an electric car charging station somewhere in your travels. But the truth is that there is a significant, paradigm-changing movement afoot with respect to how we fuel our vehicles, and reason to be optimistic that we might really be on our way to cleaner, more affordable fuel, access, and mobility choices. Here are a few examples to make the point.

BMW is the only privately-held auto manufacturer in the world. But they are also unique in how they are positioning themselves–perhaps what they’re up to gives us a glimpse into the future. BMW has redefined itself from a maker of great automobiles to the world’s leading provider of individual mobility. This is much more than a marketing stunt; it represents a sea change in terms of how we think about automakers. With partners such as Urban Mobility and Propark America, BMW is advancing the use of all-electric car-share vehicles (called DriveNow); has launched a city-specific mobility application called MyCityWay that, according to BMW “instantly identifies your location and shares the best places to get whatever it is you need;” and now offers ParkNow, which allows drivers to find and book parking, oil changes, valet services, and car washes in member and non-member garages.

BMW is not alone in forging ahead with innovation and creativity. Take Google, Inc.: At their Mountain View headquarters, you’ll see several BMW Active E vehicles available for use. There are also more than 100 compressed natural gas motor coach buses that shuttle Google employees (they’re called “Googlers”) around the Bay. Wi-Fi enabled, these vehicles are connected to the Google network and feature plush leather interiors and bicycle racks on the back. What’s more, Googlers aren’t charged to use these amenities. It’s simply part of what they provide their employees (along with free food, use of on-site workout facilities, message therapy, and a mobile barber shop). Like BMW, Google is pushing the envelope in many ways, most especially in the area of access and mobility management.

Neither of these companies is a flash-in-the-pan enterprise or undertaking anything akin to “greenwashing” (a form of spin in which green PR or green marketing is deceptively used to promote the perception that an organization’s aims and policies are environmentally friendly). Both offer a glimpse at what is to come and both challenge us to shed our old ways of thinking. Parking organizations and professionals certainly have a role to play in this effort, and forward-thinking now will be critical to future success.

Parking Lots and Trash

Mark Wright

On a recent trip to Bar Harbor, Maine, I noticed a small sign placed along many of the area’s hiking trails that simply said: ‘Leave no trace.’ The signs apparently help, as I saw very little litter.

Back here at home, though, I see no such signs—but plenty of litter. I’ve watched people deliberately throw trash on the ground as they walk down the street or get into or out of their car in a parking lot.

Keep America Beautiful, Inc. (KAB) says more than 51 billion pieces of litter hit U.S. roadways each year. It’s an $11.5 billion problem annually, with business picking up the tab for $9.1 billion of that, followed by governments, schools, and other entities.

Trash is also a big environmental problem, particularly when plastic items slip through storm drains into local watersheds and out to sea. KAB spokesman Rob Wallace tells me research reveals that litter on the ground tends to attract more litter. “A littered environment creates a social norm that littering behavior is acceptable and that there is no penalty (either criminal or social) for doing so,” explains Wallace. “Therefore, a littered area is more likely to receive even more litter.”

Rick Siebert, Chief of the Division of Parking Management for Montgomery County, Md., says his jurisdiction discovered a counter-intuitive solution to excessive trash in county parking facilities about 15 years ago: removing all trash cans.

“People would bring garbage bags with them to work and dump them in our trash cans,” says Siebert. “And if the can was full, they’d stack them on top or leave them beside the can, which then drew vermin.”

Siebert says the county now has an outsourced crew go through each garage at least once a day and clean up. “When we took the cans out, litter went down—no more free dumpsters.”

How about you? Do your facilities have trash receptacles? How do you keep parking areas free of litter?

Those little trail signs in Maine make me wonder: Would a ‘leave no trace’ campaign work in a parking lot?

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!

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.