How Green Is My Parking Garage?

Last year Santa Monica, California, opened what is being called the world’s first sustainable, LEED certified, parking garage. The project is not without controversy as some suggest that the 29 million dollar price tag actually provides little bang for the buck, while some feel that it is aesthetically abhorring, and others feel that a sustainable parking garage for fossil fuel burning vehicles is a total contradiction.

I don’t mind the look, it is a lot better than the plain concrete structures most of us are used to. It is expensive, but this sort of thing has to get started somewhere. If anything, this project stands to inspire other cities to reconsider the aesthetics of parking. The down side is, of course, that it does not discourage gas burning vehicles in any way. Perhaps there can be reduced rates for hybrids and no fees for electric vehicles?

With some small retail space on the ground floor and a cafe on the main plaza the structure intends to facilitate pedestrian traffic in the area. There are also ocean views. Only in California, of course.

Locally, with so many huge projects in the planning, it will be interesting to see how parking is dealt with in sustainability terms. Whether it is the hospital on the old Glen Yards or Griffintown, let us assess urban development projects with automobile practice as part of the main criteria.

Treehugger Review 

The Look Out News 

The Architect’s Web Page 

2 responses to “How Green Is My Parking Garage?

  1. Gorgeous! I don’t see any controversy in choosing a well designed sustainable building, housing 900 vehicles, over some nasty concrete bunker when given the choice. I’m sure a fair percentage of the cost went into the solar array on the rooftop which apparently provides all of the energy requirements for the structure. This was designed to be integrated with the Santa Monica Civic center and like it or not, they needed the parking spaces.

    I would also hope that ‘green’ vehicles get price discounts on parking, which would fit well with the ethic behind the building. Eventually all the vehicles parking in there will be hybrids or all electric… 20 more years perhaps? Hope they integrated plugin access points.

    I can’t think of any above ground parking garages in Montreal? Alexis Nihon perhaps? Do you know if the city mandates new structures to reduce their storm water runoff? Oh one other thing Neath, I think the link you have for the Architect’s site is incorrect. The projects they have worked on are pretty incredible.

  2. I will check the link, Lefty.

    I have no idea if newer “sustainability” laws regarding new structures actually exist, but you raise a very important issue. Certainly water usage and drainage are going to be more conscious and critical public issues in the coming years. The proposed Griffintown project claims to have sustainable aspects, but how much of that is just window dressing as opposed to actual infrastructure requirements that are not over 100 years old? It’s not hard for me to imagine a city engineer talking to a developer engineer over a few drinks and saying, “ah, don’t worry about that, it’ll be decades, if ever, before they change those codes”.

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