Magazine

To be ‘GREEN’, or not to BE – That is the Question

One of the most active blogs on parking is from ParkWhiz. Its SVP of Business Development, Dean Bra

By Dean Bravos

Given the variety of sustainable options available to parking facility owners and operators, there is considerable vagueness about the advantages of “going green.” With that comes understandable apprehension. Many consumers already incorporate greener practices into their lives, while many parking industry professionals are still determining how they can accommodate this evolving movement. This rings true for those operating Chicago parking lots and New York parking garages.

While some green parking technologies are still coming into their own, others are more widespread and ready to be incorporated into the consumer parking experience.



Electric-Vehicle Charging Stations

Electric-vehicle (EV) charging stations are a hot topic within the parking industry, as proponents feel that they greatly reduce end-use emissions. It’s fair to question how EV charging stations can positively impact a parking facility’s bottom line. For example, many think they take up parking space that could be used by other non-electric vehicles, which represents the majority of drivers. For example, New York City parking garages are primarily valet facilities with little unused space.

EV charging stations can serve as an amenity to attract tenants and garage patrons to distinguish organizations as progressive thinkers. Currently, charging station providers are developing ways to finance their infrastructure by using them for advertising, minimizing economic risk for parking facility owners and operators.



Pay-On-Foot Payment Technologies

How would paying-on-foot contribute to a parking facility owner or operator’s parking sustainability? Are patrons even aware that they should pay before entering their vehicles?

Many consumers experience a transitional period before they become familiar with this technology, and paying on foot becomes second nature. However, proper signage and strategically placed payment machines can help limit that. Customers growing accustomed to paying on foot will save fuel and increase air quality.

Cleaner air – specifically within garages – can create stronger revenue control by curbing ventilation costs and electricity consumption. POF parking is now commonplace in the Midwest, and especially in the Chicago.



Lighting

Is it worth investing in new lighting technology if you already have

working lights?

According to the government’s Lighting Energy Efficiency in Parking (LEEP) Campaign, “State-of-the-art lighting technologies can last two-to-five times longer than traditional outdoor lights. As a result, energy costs are reduced up to 70% and maintenance costs reduced up to 90%.”

This represents an opportunity to positively impact cash flow by transitioning to new lighting technology. Additionally, implementing new lighting systems can improve the lighting quality, making patrons feel more secure.



‘eParking’

What is eParking, and how can it contribute to green parking? How do parking facility owners and operators fit into this category?

Several studies reported that more than one-third of city traffic congestion is due to drivers searching for parking after they’ve already found their destination. As a result, more end-use emissions are released into the environment and contribute to pollution.

With the advent of eParking, drivers book parking ahead of time and drive directly to their guaranteed parking spaces, eliminating extra emissions and other resources associated with circling around.

The eParking category is gaining great momentum. Some companies, such as data aggregator ParkMe, provide point-of-interest (POI) information for off-street parking locations and rates. They do not have direct relationships with operators and typically hire independent bicycle messengers once a year to collect unofficial photos of posted pricing by parking facilities.

Data aggregators display POI information through a website or app, and sell information to third parties such as GPS devices. While POI information can reduce emissions by providing information on where a garage may exist, it does not guarantee a parking space, meaning drivers can expend more emissions going from garage to garage in search of a vacant parking space.

Other companies, such as ParkWhiz, work directly with parking operators and deliver real-time parking availability to consumers. These sites and mobile apps offer drivers the ability to search, book and prepay for a guaranteed parking space ahead of time before reaching their destination, whether for event or hourly or monthly parking.



Car sharing

Why would a company such as ParkWhiz encourage customers to share a vehicle and lower the number of vehicles on the road, decreasing the demand for parking? Fewer cars on the road means less energy goes into vehicle production and fuel consumption.

As the mobility landscape changes and parking becomes a limited, expensive resource, car-sharing companies such as IGO and Zipcar provide a steady source of parking revenue. They rent their spaces from parking garages and lots (on a monthly basis) and require multiple spaces. They also occupy multiple locations across a city in order to provide coverage to their users.

Car sharing can compromise revenue for parking operators, similar to EV stations. However, car sharing creates solutions for property owners that have trouble meeting current parking demands. Car sharing also develops an opportunity for parking operators and consultants to broaden their relations with parking asset owners by enabling alternative mobility solutions to their tenants.



‘Placemaking’

Does “placemaking” have anything to do with the parking business? Does this have much to do with sustainability?

While placemaking is not a core competency of the parking industry, it is an untapped opportunity for many parking locations across the US. While some facilities fill up, many others do not, especially on weekends.

Placemaking creates an additional revenue source, as parking facilities can hold concerts, weekly movies, flea markets and other events that can put unused parking assets to work.

For asset owners, this may be an opportunity to strengthen relations with local politicians and the community. For private owners and operators, it is a chance to further connect with patrons and their community. Placemaking at parking facilities enhances neighbor vitality and helps strengthen community.



Does ‘green parking’

make sense for my business?

Ultimately, the decision to go green is for you to make. Many sustainability initiatives can be drivers of revenue growth or reduce operating costs.

As demand for transportation increases, green parking gives the industry the opportunity to share the future. It allows parking facility owners and operators to become specialists on mobility and develop current parking assets into the intermodal transportation hubs of the future.

In the end, sustainability communicates to consumers, clients, community and investors that your organization is responsible and innovative, and has taken an interest in being socially responsible.



Dean Bravos, SVP of Business Development at ParkWhiz,

can be reached at dbravos@parkwhiz.com.



 

Article Abstract from December, 2013




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