Green Parking? A Future Direction for Parking Industry

This year’s Climate and Society class is out in the field (or lab or office) completing a summer internship or thesis. They’ll be documenting their experiences one blog post at a time. Read on to see what they’re up to.

By Yuanhui Hu, Climate and Society 2014

“What is green parking?”

This question came up when I first heard of the Green Parking Council, the organization where I’m interning this summer. Just a few months prior, I was anxious and uncertain about what my summer internship should be. But now, I am extremely excited about being involved in the Green Garage Certification Program (GPC).

Photo: Chris Murphy/Flickr

Photo: Chris Murphy/Flickr

It turns out parking has its unique relationship with vehicles and has a lot of potential to drive sustainable development. We can hardly imagine life without cars, and as long as cars are around, we’ll need somewhere to park them. And those buildings represent an avenue to shift the ways to move from one place to another. For example, people might be more willing to own electric vehicles — which have fewer greenhouse gas emissions — if more parking structures install electric vehicle chargers.

That’s why I took an internship with a business-based non-profit organization. Things like preparing documents for different requirements and expanding the partnership network helped me gain a comprehensive understanding of how it runs its business, which will be a valuable experience for my future career.

On June 1, the GPC launched its Green Garage Certification, the world’s only rating system for sustainable practices in parking structure management, programming, design, and technology. I was extremely excited to see this program come into existence.

Perhaps more importantly, my internship presented opportunities for me to apply what I have learned during my year of C+S to my internship. I was a team member in Green Parking Return On Investment (ROI) project and our team wanted to figure out investments, environmental and economic benefits of each element in parking management, program, and technology and strategy sections. Surprisingly, I found that the cost-benefit analysis project for three roofing alternatives done in my previous course, Quantitative Models of Climate Sensitive Natural and Human Systems, could be perfectly applied to roofing system element in ROI project.

What’s more, my summer internship in GPC coincides my future plan back to China. China has a huge market for parking, but the idea of green parking is not mature there. At the same time, major environmental issues like smog are a huge problem in China, so the Chinese government and public are starting to pay more attention to environmental protection and sustainable development. When I return to China, there may be more prospects to make the parking industry more green.

It was an amazing journey from Columbia University, New York to Green Parking Council, New Haven this summer. I loved the parking-themed trip Paul Wessel, GPC’s executive director, guided me on during my first time to New Haven. I enjoyed working with Paul and Trevyr Meade, one of GPC’s staff associates, and learning from them.


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