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.