Parking Structures – Going Green, the Beginning
Like it or not, “green” is here to stay. It is the umbrella term for energy conservation, clean air and water, environmentally friendly structures and the ground on which they are built, and everything else that is believed will help keep us more healthy longer and independent of foreign sources of the things we need, and want, in our personal lives and businesses. This is the first in a series of periodic articles to inform you of what is going on with green so you can be more competitive in bidding, designing and constructing parking structures.
The federal government and states, counties and cities across America have enacted, or are in the process or planning to enact, laws that require new structures and the renovation of existing structures to be green.
These laws concern how the construction is done and the structure itself. This includes, for example, minimizing the use of natural resources (e.g., wood), maximizing the use of post consumer/industrial materials (which themselves also need to be recyclable), and creating durable and sustainable structures that require minimum maintenance to the greatest extent possible. Laws also are being enacted that restrict the type and quantity of construction materials that can be land-filled. In many cases, tax credits and other incentives are being provided for going green.
The growing trend for aesthetically attractive architectural finishes and decorative designs on concrete structures also is becoming an important element in the greening of such structures.
So, what does green mean for developers, architects and contractors of parking structures?
Initially, most green construction materials and practices can be expected to be more expensive, perhaps significantly, than those used today. However, as green materials and practices become the standard, such expenses will be built into the project cost, and as the use and availability of green construction materials increase, it can be expected that prices will be adjusted downward and stabilized.
Green materials encompass, for example:
• Concrete mixes with micro-silicas and aggressive aggregates that minimize porosity/leaks that can damage cars and that extend the useful life of the structure with minimum maintenance and repair.
• Concrete forming products that do not require oil or other release agents, can be used for multiple pours, provide uniform architectural finishes on the concrete over many pours, and are recyclable.
Although various biodegradable and other environmentally friendly release agents have come on the market recently, they still are “oils,” which makes it difficult to handle the forms or safe to walk on them when used for horizontal tables, and requires the forms to be cleaned between uses. Such products, like the traditional forming oils/release agents, are an added cost and generally more expensive, and often result in additional expenses for cleaning and finishing the concrete, as well as from potential contamination of the job site from cleaning the forms and any spillage of the release agent.
Several organizations are attempting to develop green standards and consolidate the green building movement. One is the U.S. Green Building Council, a private organization. Its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program provides various levels of certification. Detailed information can be found at www.usgbc.org and www.usgbc/leed.org. Other initiatives can be found readily on the Internet under “green buildings” and related key words.
The next article in this series will address the LEED and other certification programs and the related tax and other incentives for going green. The sooner that developers, architects and builders of parking structures get onboard with green compliance, the more competitive they will be going forward.
Steven R. Maimon is President and CEO of Maxam Industries. It provides concrete forming products that are LEED-compliant. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The city of Santa Monica, CA, has completed an 882-space, $29 million parking structure that has received certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, making it the first parking garage in the nation to achieve such standing. The structure joins five other buildings in the city that have been certified as having attained the council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) award.
About $1.5 million of the total cost was spent on sustainable elements, including solar panels on the roof level, which generate 181KW of power, and a storm drain system that will filter runoff before it is sent to the ocean.
The building is made from recycled construction materials, and will accommodate seven electric vehicles with charging stations.
Art also was an important feature, with colorful paneling on the exterior of the structure and art pieces installed on each elevator bay. The panels are intended to signify the sunrise to the east and the ocean to the west. The art pieces, which range from a gigantic ball of twine to a large tire on the roof, are meant to alleviate the fears of dark parking structures and remind people where they parked.