Magazine

Sustainability

‘Making Cents of Going Green’

By Robert Das and Henri du Pont

To most, “going green” is now accepted terminology. And to a growing number of parking facility managers, owners and operators, going green is no longer a social responsibility but a call to action.
Many also consider it a core best practice for doing business today. However, every sustainability program has its hurdles. How do you avoid the “green washing” effect? Where is your “green” – return on investment – for going green? How do you “make cents” for a greener future for the parking industry?
“Green washing” is making green investment decisions without fiscal responsibility and accountability. Every business decision requires fiscal responsibility, and going green should be no exception.
A growing number of organizations ranging from universities, hospitals, airports and municipalities to general paid parking companies have promoted their green initiatives. What are the costs of going green, and what were the financial metrics that supported those investments? You must fully understand the money being generated or saved within green programs.
Where is my green for going green?
Look up and see the light.
The operating expenses of a parking facility typically range from equipment and operators to general day-to-day maintenance. The single biggest impact to the bottom line is the existing 24/7/365 lights in your parking facility. As we all know, the cost of electricity is progressing in a single direction.
Simply stated, the lights are vaporizing precious dollars from your pocket.
Light-emitting diode (LED) lights are here and ready to serve the parking industry. With them, you can slash your lighting wattage-burn by 70%. You can have lights that last for more than 10 years (100,000 hours). With them, you can impact your bottom line.
A disruptive change is among us: the convergence of LED technology with a “Lighting as a Service” business model, where going green while saving green intersects.
Everything in our universe has evolved into the digital economy. Lighting is ready for this evolution. An LED is a semiconductive computer chip serving as a vessel for the transmission of information. LED lighting requires no mercury and has no filaments. An LED light can be controlled for daylight harvesting and motion sensors … from your PDA, for example.
But all LED lights for the parking industry are not the same. The best should provide superior lumen output, spread of illumination and adequate color temperature. The right ones also should eliminate a portion of your existing fixtures. Now we are making cents!
Good lights are never cheap, and cheap lights are never good
LED lights are expensive when compared to less-energy-efficient lighting. So what are the options for a parking facility if the capital outlay is not available to purchase the LED lights and have them installed in compliance with the local building codes?
How do you obtain the certifications required to take advantage of the significant tax and local incentives offered for LED Lighting? Should you purchase LED lights with available capital or rent them with no capital outlay? Should you wait for years for a return on investment when your decision today can be cash flow positive?
The Lighting as a Service, or LAAS, business model allows the parking entity to receive state-of-the-art LED lighting technology without spending a dime on a complete LED lighting retrofit project. The retrofit consists of the LED lights, installation, and all the necessary expenses related to a capital improvement project. So what can the return on investment be with LAAS? Since there is no investment, there is no return.
LED lights are the beginning. Consider the possibilities if, for instance, every parking garage had a car-charging station. With the infusion of electric vehicles today, what would a charging station in every parking garage mean to our society? Then imagine coupling a charging station with LED lighting as part of your LAAS program?
Clearly, going green can make a lot of dollars and cents for the parking industry.
Select a qualified vendor, and they will be more than willing to prepare a professional feasibility study comparing purchase and Lighting as a Service.
The future of parking awaits all of us. The future is bright.
Robert Das, CEO of The LED Company, can be contacted at Robert.Das@The-LED-Company.com. Henri du Pont, President of Shared Savings Fund, can be contacted at HDUPONT@SharedSavingsFund.com.

Sidebar:
‘Green Parking Council’ – What’s That?
From the Green Parking Council website (http://usgreenparkingcouncil.org):
“The Green Parking Council (GPC) is a nonprofit organization providing leadership and oversight for the green conversion of parking facilities to sustainable, environmentally responsible assets. (It) is dedicated to expanding green parking practices and environmental services through its Certified Green Garage rating system.
“(The) GPC encourages new, alternative parking practices and exceptional industry transformation through creative thought and ingenuity. By challenging garage owners and managers to collaborate and create open-sourced, sustainable best practices, the parking industry can positively impact the environment.”
Its Board of Directors includes Pamela D. Brown of Standard Parking, David Allen of the University of Maryland, John Schmid of Propark Inc., Matt Cahill of Towne Park and Kevin Shrier of The Parking Spot. The GPC’s Executive Director, Marc Alt, is “a recognized leader and consultant on the emerging green economy, sustainable design and aligning corporate strategy with environmental and social benefit. ...”
The GPC held its inaugural event May 10 at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas during the 2010 International Parking Institute Conference & Expo. The launch included a board nomination meeting followed by a reception attended by people from throughout the parking industry. It is currently working with the National Parking Association and the IPI in formulating publications on green parking.
For more information, check the GPC website (http://usgreenparkingcouncil.org).

Article Abstract from August, 2011




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