Urban Design & Sustainable Parking

If we can agree that sustainable car parking doesn’t mean getting rid of all vehicles, including electric, what then is sustainable parking? From the urban design or urban planning perspective, it seems that a shared, underground parking garage may be the closest thing to sustainable car parking. Underground parking garages have many sustainable features, so why don’t we see more of them?
Underground parking garages eliminate a wide range of non-sustainability issues that accompany aboveground sustainable parking, including:
No stormwater runoff
Control of liquid Pollution
Control of solid waste
More greenspace
No obstruction of views
No obstruction of sunlight
Car noise abatement
No contribution to heat islanding.

Theoretically, underground parking garages should also provide a higher level of safety and security. More safety comes from the virtual elimination of weather-related problems and height-related risks, such as falls, that are possible with aboveground parking garages. Increased security comes from the more limited access to underground parking garages compared to aboveground parking garages: there are fewer, more well-defined access points for vehicles and pedestrians. This limited access would be expected to have an inhibiting effect on criminal behavior inside the underground parking garages.

With all these advantages, why aren’t there more underground parking garages? Why isn’t there a magic button that moves all aboveground car parking garages underground.

One answer: Putting conventional parking garages underground is very expensive. The basic problem is that conventional parking garages need to be a certain size to be economically feasible…to achieve an appropriate economy of scale. Often, the economy of scale for underground parking garages is achieved with many fewer parking spaces than for aboveground parking garages. If, for example, an aboveground parking garage achieves the lowest cost per parking space with 250 parking spaces, an underground parking garage may achieve the lowest cost per parking space with fewer than 100 parking spaces. This inequality of economics is a major hurdle for underground parking garages.

Automated parking systems (APS) redefine the concept of underground car parking in many ways. One significant way is cost. An underground APS is far less costly than an underground parking garage. Faster installation and much less excavation are some others.

Contact your Skyline Parking representative to see how your urban design or planning can be more sustainable with automated parking systems…an optimal choice for sustainable car parking.


Parking Garage Air Quality

Rygning forbudt
Verboden te roken
Bawal manigarilyo
Défense de fumer
Rauchen verboten
Vietato fumare
Не курить
No fumar
No Smoking

It’s a common sign all around the world…keeping smoke from tobacco products out of buildings (or confined to specially ventilated areas) is simply a common sense measure to protect peoples’ health. Automobile exhaust is also something people should avoid. However, everyone in or around a parking garage is exposed to some elevated level of automobile exhaust: drivers, passengers, pedestrians, garage employees. Unfortunately, running an automobile engine inside a parking garage isn’t optional, like smoking, or is it?

Even non-enclosed, above grade parking garages concentrate automobile exhaust. There’s just no way to avoid it. A common English saying goes, “The solution to pollution is dilution”. The solution to automobile exhaust in parking garages is dilution with “fresh” air until reaching an acceptable pollution level. In non-enclosed, above grade parking garages this is done by natural ventilation - it being assumed that with sufficiently large openings in the parking garage, natural air circulation will keep the automobile exhaust at acceptable levels. In enclosed or below grade parking garages, mechanical ventilation (huge fans and fresh air ducts) must be used to provide enough dilution air to keep the automobile exhaust at acceptable levels. Many localities even require that parking garages utilize carbon monoxide (CO) monitors since this component of automobile exhaust is colorless, odorless and toxic in high concentrations.

If we applied the same logic to automobile exhaust that we apply to tobacco smoke, we wouldn’t permit automobile engines to be run inside parking garages of any sort. Clearly, this isn’t practical for conventional parking garages. It’s standard operation for an automated parking system (APS), however…the engine is turned off before an automobile is moved into and parked in the APS. Turning off engines before the automobile enters the parking area is the automotive version of signs that tell smokers, “Please enjoy your smoking outdoors”.

For parking facilities located under commercial buildings, there is always the concern that automobile exhaust somehow finds its way upward through elevator shafts and stairways - into the building ventilation system. Automated parking systems eliminate this as an issue besides promoting healthy living and working environments in other ways.

Contact your Skyline Parking representative to discuss parking garage air-quality, healthy car parking solutions and sustainable parking.