Tenants have been pushing building owners and managers to make their properties as environmentally friendly and sustainable as possible, and that eco-consciousness is carrying over to parking facilities.
“About five years ago, people active in the parking, real estate and technology industries in the States and Canada said that they wanted to help parking be part of the solution rather than being a poster child for a problem,” executive director Paul Wessel said of Green Parking Council’s origins.
Green Garage Certificate program launched
In 2014, the GPC launched the Green Garage Certification (GGC) program, the world’s only rating system that defines and recognizes sustainable practices in parking structure management, programming, design and technology.
Some parking facilities received LEED certification for their occupied spaces or as part of a larger project prior to the development of the Green Garage Certification program, but, according to the U.S. Green Building Council, “parking areas themselves are not now, nor have they ever been, eligible for LEED-certification.”
More than 200 professionals contributed to the development of the Green Garage Certification, producing drafts, running beta programs, and providing feedback along the way to add or refine existing categories. The GPC reached out to the Building Owners and Managers Association, International Facility Management Association, U.S. Green Building Council, Urban Land Institute, Green Building Certification Institute and other organizations to seek advice and to build relationships.
“We were pleased to see that everybody recognized that this was an often-ignored asset class and it made sense if we were to think about them being a feature of commercial and other properties and how buildings connect with the transportation network,” said Wessel. “Looking at parking structures and their operations made sense.”
“We had about 40 different sites around the U.S. and Canada take the program and hold it up to their facilities and give us feedback both on tools that would be helpful to document the program and the program itself,” said Wessel. “All three of the companies were actively involved in that process.”
Impark rolling out green certification program
Impark operates approximately 2,400 parking facilities in Canada and the United States. Julian Jones, Vancouver-based senior vice-president of corporate development, said his company worked with key clients and property managers in deciding which facilities should be included in the initial studies working towards certification.
“Impark has contributed sponsorship of the GPC since its inception in addition to devoting employee time and resources towards supporting the GPC certification development,” said Jones.
“The GPC has been extremely valuable in creating a much-needed awareness of, and standards for, sustainable practices in parking facility operations. Working within the GPC framework, Impark has been able to collaborate with property owners and managers to achieve their own environmental and sustainability objectives.”
Jones added Impark hasn’t set a specific timeline for making improvements to its facilities to meet Green Garage Certification standards.
“Much of the certification process requires us working with the property owners and managers, and we will develop more specific objectives, on a lot-by-lot basis, in conjunction with our client partners,” he said.
Brookfield active from Day One
Green garage assessor training will take place at Toronto’s Brookfield Place on March 3.
“Brookfield has been active from Day One, serves on the board and is probably the leading commercial property owner exploring and supporting this,” said Wessel.
“For Brookfield, the leadership on the parking side was very visionary, and they’re excited and doing a lot of programs already in this vein. I think Brookfield as an entity has a strong commitment to sustainable operations and, for them, it was really a no-brainer when we emerged that this made sense for them to work on.”
About Green Garage Certification (GGC)
Green Garage Certification was developed, tested and endorsed by building owners and managers, parking operators and manufacturers.
The GPC’s certification process looks at three different ways new and existing parking facilities can be run more sustainably: the management practices it employs; the programs it offers; and the basic structures and technologies in the garage. Wessel summarized them as:
“Management practices include things like charging for parking and whether good waste management practices, regional materials and regional labour were used in construction.
“Programs include things like hosting car-sharing programs, offering bicycle parking, offering preferential services for alternative fuel vehicles, a traffic flow plan and access to mass transit.
“The technology and structure section is more traditional and includes things like green roofs, energy-efficient lighting, electric vehicle charging stations and things like that.”
The Green Garage Certification integrates 50 discrete technologies, programs and management practices intended to make the parking industry more sustainable.