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Parking Garages Get Their Green On

Thursday, June 5, 2014

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The concrete colossus known as the parking garage may now join its green-building brethren in a new rating system that focuses on the structure's design, technology and operation.

The “Green Garage Certification” is billed as the first system of its kind and the parking industry's equivalent of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

The certification was initiated by the Green Parking Council, an affiliate of the International Parking Institute.

NREL
Dennis Schroeder / NREL

One of the facilities tested during the certification beta phase was the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s parking garage in Golden, CO.

"Green Garage Certification provides both a roadmap and assessment tool for real estate owners, developers, planners, architects, tenants, parking operators, and others to strive toward a more environmentally and economically sustainable future," Green Parking Council Executive Director Paul Wessel said in an announcement of the launch Monday (June 2).

‘Consensus-Driven’ System

Wessel said the “consensus-driven program” had been established over several years, honed by external reviewers and a beta-testing phase that included more than 40 parking facilities throughout the U.S. and Canada.

One facility tested during the beta phase was the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s parking garage in Golden, CO. The structure opened in 2012.

NREL
Dennis Schroeder / NREL

The NREL garage features a large, daylit, central atrium and staircase.

With 1,800 parking spaces, the 578,320-square-foot, five-story structure is described as a “showcase for energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies.”

Technologies at the parking garage include daylighting, occupancy lighting sensors, a rooftop solar photovoltaic array, open sides for natural ventilation, and dozens of charging stations for electric vehicles.

Assessment Criteria

The Green Parking Council says the new certification system represents a “holistic approach,” evaluating facilities based on their achievement toward a menu of standards developed by more than 200 experts.

Based on an overall level of performance, structures may achieve Bronze, Silver, or Gold Certification, which is awarded for three years and is renewable, according to the Green Parking Council.

Certification Criteria
Green Parking Council

The system evaluates facilities based on their achievement toward a menu of standards developed by experts.

Nearly 50 elements can be used to help achieve certification under the system, including the use of low/zero VOC paints, coatings and sealants; lighting controls; ventilation systems; and rainwater harvesting.

More information: greenparkingcouncil.org/certification.

   

Tagged categories: Certifications and standards; Environmental Protection; Green building; Green design; Lighting; Low-VOC; Parking Garages; Zero-VOC

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (6/5/2014, 8:18 AM)

All of these items seem pretty minor compared to doing something like requiring 30% Class F fly ash in the concrete mix design. Sure, they're neat, mostly "green" details - but they're details. The bulk of this structure is the massive amount of concrete, which requires expending huge amounts of energy to make and the emission of equally massive amounts of carbon dioxide. Substitute fly ash for 30% of the cement, and you have several benefits: You are diverting a waste product to beneficial use. You are massively reducing the energy consumed and carbon dioxide put out when producing cement, and you typically get a more durable concrete. Win-win-win. This item alone should be 100x or more of the value of using low-VOC paints and coatings, which has its own separate listed line-item.


Comment from John Fauth, (6/5/2014, 9:23 AM)

No disagreement, Tom. Unfortunately, mandating the use of fly ash does not constitute a certification system nor justify the existence of a bureaucracy and is doomed by its simplicity.


Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (6/6/2014, 8:10 AM)

Unfortunate they didn't have a single real concrete guy in their 200 "experts," since concrete is 90+% of the structure. I really am impressed with the circular logic of getting green certification points for getting a 3rd party sustainability certification. Renewable energy generation actually makes sense in many places - put up solar panels on the roof to shade the cars up there (otherwise, roof parking is the WORST in the summer.) Cost isn't much more than a traditional standing seam metal roof carport.


Comment from dave sheldon, (6/11/2014, 6:31 PM)

Great points Tom, thank you for your feedback. As a concrete builder we are always looking for ways to improve our approach and build a more environmentally-friendly project. To respond will take a couple posts, sorry for the lengthy reply. The point system related to the use of cementitious material replacements grew from the LEED and Green Globes certification processes, which are the two primary green building certification systems existing in the U.S. prior to ours – the only two existing standards we had to go by. We didn’t weight this category higher at the time due to many factors – reliance on existing certification processes, the vastly reduced embodied energy of concrete (1.3 mj/kg for the concrete, 8.9 mj/kg for rebar – 150 lbs/cf) in relation to structural steel (32 mj/kg – 490 lbs/cf) which inherently makes a concrete structure more sustainable (in addition to vastly reduced life cycle impact vs. steel as reported by the MIT concrete sustainability hub), the Pade and Guimares study on recarbonation (which shows that concrete re-absorbs the CO2 produced in the cement production process over its life cycle - Ca(OH)2 + CO2 = CaCO3 + H2O), the fact that cementitious materials are only 11% of the composition of concrete (6% air, 41% gravel, 26% sand, 16% water) and therefore the impact of the CO2 produced in the cement production process is minute relative to the total amount of concrete used, the ability to earn compounded points in the life cycle analysis, and the fact that the cement production process is continuously improving and reducing carbon footprint (17% reduction in CO2 emissions since 1990 despite increased production of 74%). Factors contributing to the reduction in carbon footprint of the cement production process include more efficient kiln production, increased use of biofuels, reduction in clinker content, an 8% reduction in electricity used and the active practice of planting greenery near cement production facilities. Combustion (40%) and Calcination (60%) are the two sources of CO2 released in the cement production process, and plants are now looking at CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage) as a potential means to further clean up this process. Regardless, the cement production process is far cleaner than that of structural steel – which is echoed in the extremely disparate aforementioned embodied energy numbers.


Comment from dave sheldon, (6/11/2014, 6:32 PM)

There are mix designs emerging now that actually use CO2 to harden (creating a net zero carbon effect for concrete) and many other designs that actively contribute to reduced carbon footprints. We are excited to utilize these designs but still awaiting coding on them. In the meantime going with 30% fly ash is not ideal for concrete construction – the mix doesn’t set well or nearly as fast, and going with a high percentage of silica fume makes it soupy and very difficult to work with. The best possible designs I’ve come across in my research are ternary and quaternary mixes utilizing 5-10% fly ash, 5-10% silica fume and/or slag and PCC. This kind of mix provides the best of both worlds – a high compression strength, low permeability and corrosion resistance, ASR resistance, and reduction of thermal cracking. They are also easier to work with which makes the construction process less timely and costly and reduces maintenance over time – the very definition of sustainability. In other words, even small amounts of cementitious replacements can contribute to significant carbon footprint reduction in other ways, far beyond the mere composition of concrete. This is currently difficult to measure outside a comprehensive life cycle analysis, which we always suggest. In fact we offer up to 10 points for conducting one and felt that this enables the applicant to capture the full impact of cementitious replacements – in addition to the recycled content credit. We fully understand that the Green Garage Certification process is not perfect and your input is valid and greatly appreciated. As technology changes and evolves this certification process will have to as well, and its input like yours that will help us continue improving this program toward our goal from day one - a green building standard that encourages and rewards sustainable parking structure construction where LEED and Green Globes fail to. Thank you very much for your time and comments, please let us know if you have any additional feedback regarding the system.


Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (6/13/2014, 8:50 AM)

Dave, Thanks for continuing the discussion! I probably oversimplified, as I’m not enough on the concrete side to be an expert. Your percentages seem low - cement replacement has been the standard for TxDOT mix designs for a long time: For example, 20-35% fly ash, or 35-50% of a mix of fly ash, slag and silica fume. This is straight out of the 2004 specbook, with a lot of use of fly ash, etc beforehand. These are high compression, low perm, corrosion resistant concretes - likely more so than just about any parking garage. Hundreds of thousands (likely millions) of cubic yards of concrete per year are being used in this state alone with much higher cement replacement than what you list. A couple million tons of recycled concrete aggregate as well. Sure, cement may be only 11% of your concrete - but what's the mass of CO2 emitted and extra energy used compared to the tiny amount of VOC saved in 2-3 mils of paint on a parking garage by going from a regular latex to a "low VOC" latex? Orders of magnitude difference, yet low-voc paint made the list, and more "green" concrete (of ANY type, whether using fly ash or any others you mention, or using recycled concrete aggregate) - did not make the list. Concrete thicknesses are a thousand times higher.


Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (1/5/2015, 3:34 PM)

So, has the Green Garage Certification worked on incorporating "green" concrete into the certification?


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