Planning and Design
Research from the British Parking Association reveals that the average motorist spends 91 hours a year searching for car parking spaces. Not only is this annoying for the individual, it has knock-on environmental effects as cars sit in traffic looking for a space.
With the amount of traffic coming and going, car parks can contribute to harmful effects on the environment. Green car parks attempt to offset these effects by being more environmentally friendly without interfering with the needs that such facilities require. In designing green parking, landowners should look to consider the below aspects.
In any car park, the largest feature is its paved area. Changing the surface by using turf grids, joint pavers, and porous asphalt, for example, to be more permeable to water can help the site drain better. Additionally, if you’re building on a grassy area, there are plenty of reinforcement solutions that can be laid down to protect wear on surfaces that are prone to creating muddy conditions.
Solar powered payment machines can be installed in car parks instead of hardwired systems – further easing the environmental impact of the car park.
The use of scaled lighting is another element of green parking design. Installing shorter light poles and dimmer, less intense lighting where pedestrians will be and brighter lighting in areas where cars are. Additionally, this lighting may also be powered using solar or wind energy.
Providing bicycle storage can be environmentally beneficial. It goes without saying that bicycles are more eco-friendly than cars, so it’s a good idea to increase footfall by giving cyclists somewhere to store their bikes.
Most common problems and solutions
Stormwater management is another pivotal element of green parking. If you’re committing to an eco-friendly approach then the appropriate best practices for stormwater are essential, since the cumulative effect of stormwater runoff has become the leading cause of nonpoint pollution (pollution which comes from a combination of sources) to nearby bodies of water.
If your car park project includes the construction of the site – it is worth identifying recycled and eco-friendly materials which can be used in the build. Supermarket chain, Tesco, have recently trialled using recycled plastics to resurface a car park at one of their sites – offsetting the environmental impact of 225,000 plastic bags going to landfill.
In terms of technology, an automated parking system (APS) has been shown to be highly beneficial to sustainability for a number of reasons.
Accommodating increasing numbers of people and cars in a sustainable manner needs space efficiency. APS can greatly reduce the land area and volume required for cars. Through such systems, it’s possible to double the number of parking spaces of conventional parking by placing sites in unused or previously unusable areas.
Recycled steel reduces CO2 emissions and energy consumption by 75% compared to non-recycled steel. It also accounts for up to 85% of the building materials used in automated parking systems, while also aiding energy efficiency. APS requires little-to-no lighting, ventilation, security systems, and other features, minimising electricity consumption, particularly in underground facilities.
APS can help reduce pollutants such as carbon dioxide and other matter generated by cars in a number of different ways. Consider the amount of circling, driving and waiting that you’d typically do in a multi-storey car park, for example. With an APS, drivers can simply turn their engines off, lock up and leave the automated system to park and retrieve them.
It is worth noting that APS is best suited to sites with a relatively balanced throughput, such as shopping centres and train stations. The technology can handle small peaks during the rush hour in the morning and evening quite well, but they are not recommended for high-peak hour volume (big sporting or entertainment events, for example).