Educational institutions lead the way in sustainable development and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, says Paul Wessel, executive director of the Green Parking Council.
And even though the U.S. Green Building Council stopped LEED-certifying parking structures in 2011, the Green Parking Council is out to prove that garages can still be environmentally friendly.
Just recently, a garage at Cornell University was among the first seven buildings—and the only educational facility—to earn the newly established Green Garage Certification.
The 254-spot Forest Home garage, built in 2009, features electric vehicle charging stations, nearby public green space, and an energy-efficient LED lighting system.
“Every couple of weeks we hear from an architect, engineer or construction professional who is working on a college or university project and is designing to the Green Garage Certification standard,” says Wessel.
Stanford University is currently on its way to having the first newly constructed parking garage at an educational institution be certified.
Other schools that have applied for certification or are in talks with the council include The Universities at Shady Grove in Maryland, California State Polytechnic University, The Ohio State University, Portland State University and California State University, Long Beach.
Even if a campus isn’t pursuing Green Garage status, the rating system is worth consulting because it exemplifies strategies that improve sustainability, says Jeff Smallidge, parking consultant with Walker Parking Consultants, who is also a green garage assessor for the Council.
Some of those include: using energy efficient lighting and ventilation; making it easy for people to find, enter and exit garages to reduce unnecessary carbon emissions; and providing a hub for cyclists, commuters, carpoolers, ride-sharers, walkers and mass transit users.