Green Parking Council (GPC), an affiliate of the International Parking Institute, is a non-profit organization formed in 2009 to provide leadership and oversee the green conversion of parking facilities to sustainable, environmentally responsible assets. Upon its formation, the organization consisted of over 30 partner organizations, including technology providers, auto manufacturers, commercial property owners, and parking operators. The council had several areas of focus, as outlined below:
The organization’s goal is to inspire and enable every person engaging in parking garages to think and act sustainably. This leadership focuses on matters pertaining to peoples’ energy efficiency and how this relates to the surrounding neighborhood, how it manages stormwater runoff and if it encourages car sharing, walking, biking, or alternative fuel vehicles. The Green Parking Council focuses on enabling the growth of the parking industry to economic, environmental, and technological sustainability by transforming the parking industry. The Green Parking Council is the only national body providing sustainability certification to parking facilities, with 20,000 lots and garages enrolled with the council nationwide. Through its Certified Green Garage rating system, acquired by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) and later rebranded and launched as the Parksmart rating system, the GPC expanded green parking practices and promoted sustainable urban mobility. Thanks to its new technology and creative ideas, the Green Parking Council hosts regional Innovation Salons to address the role of transportation hubs and parking structures as key building blocks for urbanism and offer fresh thinking.
The Green Garage Certification Program
The Green Garage Certification, launched in 2014, is a program tested and endorsed by managers and building owners alongside parking operators and manufacturers whose purpose is to define the standard for parking sustainability and goal for parking owners and operators. The program came to existence in recognition of the importance of sustainable parking facilities and practices to the development of sustainable communities. This program is the parking industry equivalent of LEED certification. LEED is an abbreviation for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a rating system for high performers of green buildings. The Green Garage Certification, developed with the support of the International Parking Institute (IPU) and partners representing all industry segments, draws extensively from the knowledge acquired through experience with the LEED certification and alignment with USGBC’s mission and goals.
With the program’s standards, the IPI established a focus on education related to sustainability and GBCI’s distribution channels. This program is the world’s only rating system that defines and recognizes sustainable practices in structure management, technology, design, programming, and parking. The Green Garage Certification was designed with the vision that parking can be greener, good, service, and real estate class. The vision was such that the facilities that adopt and promulgate the program could be more profitable and provide a higher level of service, thus advancing the industry. The program, applying to both new and existing parking structures, assessed the 48 elements of parking facility sustainability and was developed by experts from various related fields, including technology, engineering, and parking. The program centers on maximizing performance while minimizing waste, setting up programs that encourage alternate modes of transportation and community engagement, and providing efficient and sustainable technology and structure design. It seeks to provide and recognize the best practices in the parking industry, including benchmark success and potential, measuring impacts to the planet, profit, and people, to promote the creation of greater return on investment and to raise the bar on garage performance. The program assigns points to specific measures based on environmental impact. With a total of 248 points available, new garages achieving 110 to 134 certification points are recognized at the Bronze Level; those achieving between 135 and 159 points earn the silver distinction, while those demonstrating exemplary performance reaching at least 160 points are recognized as Gold Certified garages. On the other hand, existing garages seeking certification must achieve at least 90 points with a minimum of 15 points in each of the categories assessed. Before its launching, the GPC Demonstrator Sites launched in 2009 acted as a precursor to Green Garage Certification Program to bring recognition and marketability to parking facilities deploying green approaches.
Following its acquisition in 2016, the Green Garage Certification Program was predicted to go a long way toward resolving the debate of whether street parking could be sustainable.
Light Energy Efficiency in Parking Campaign
The Green Parking Council, in collaboration with the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International, IFMA, and the United States Department of Energy, launched the Light Energy Efficiency in Parking (LEEP) campaign in 2012; a campaign that offers education and technical assistance to parking facility owners and operators to speed up the adoption of energy-efficient lighting and parking lots and structures. The campaign was a recognition and guidance program designed to enable facility owners and managers to take advantage of saving opportunities from high-efficiency lighting solutions in their parking facilities. This campaign was brought to be with the view that parking lots and structures are significant consumers of electricity; therefore, there was a need to unveil a means through which commercial building owners, managers, and parking garage/lot owners could save energy and money while using high-efficiency lighting technology in these structures.
Acquisition by GBCI
Green Building Certification Inc (GBCI), the organization independently recognizing excellence in green business industry performance and practice globally, acquired the assets of the Green Parking Council in 2016. Because of this acquisition, the Green Building Council became in charge of administering the Green Garage Certification.