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Smarter parking structure design and operation: The guiding principles of ParkSmart certification
Safety, efficiency, and sustainability. These are the guiding principles driving Parksmart, Canada’s first voluntary certification system created to “advance sustainable mobility through smarter parking structure design and operation.”
Launched in 2018 by Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI), ParkSmart aims to champion parkade technologies, systems, and best practices that both minimize a property’s environmental footprint while bolstering efficiencies and reducing operational costs along the way.
“Even though parking structures enable the use of passenger vehicles, considered one of the evils contributing to our current environmental condition, they remain a necessity,” says Frank Cavaliere, Managing Principal with RJC Engineers (RJC), in an interview with Canadian Facility Management & Design. “As such, they need to be designed to minimize their own carbon footprint while encouraging users to do the same.”
The program is available to all enclosed or multi-level parking structures (i.e. at-grade outdoor parking lots are excluded), new or existing, , be they commercial, municipal, hospital, retail, or hospitality. Properties aiming to achieve certification have up to five years to work through the four-level program, each of which requires a specified number of points as per the ParkSmart Scorecard.
See the ParkSmart Certification Guide for details.
Setting the pace
Oxford Properties Group’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre has the distinction of earning Canada’s first ParkSmart Certification. In 2018, the retail hotspot achieved the program’s Pioneer level for existing parking structures for its G Parkade, while its (then) newly constructed E Parkade east structure was given a certified Parksmart Bronze.
Several elements led to this Canadian first. These include Oxford's collaboration with RJC to create an analysis matrix that was used to evaluate both parking structures against various durability standards. The findings from RJC's assessment were summarized in a final report used by the project's sustainability consultant and project lead, C.D. Sonter, to inform and strengthen Oxford's Parksmart certification application.
“We’re proud to have contributed to this milestone,” says John Kooymans, Principal with RJC. “ParkSmart’s goals align with our own when it comes to designing quality, sustainable, and people-centred solutions, so working with Oxford on this initiative was a natural fit.”
Other sustainability measures contributing to Yorkdale Mall’s ParkSmart certifications include the collection and usage of rainwater through cisterns in the two parkades; implementation of energy-saving programmable lighting; installation of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations; and repurposing of greywater from a tank in Parkade E for the mall’s washrooms.
Yorkdale was the first of many properties to obtain GBCI’s designation. As of December 2021, over 150 new and existing projects in ten countries have registered or certified with Parksmart.
See a full list of certified properties here.
Raising the bar
It’s been several years since RJC helped Oxford earn ParkSmart’s first certification. And today, says Cavaliere, the firm continues to support its clients aiming to achieve certification in the program: "RJC Engineers has extensive experience in parking structure design, protection, maintenance and repair, and a number of employees with the Parksmart Advisor designation. We can recommend design considerations to help owners attain any level of certification, as well as assess existing parking structures to ascertain whether the facility would qualify and make recommendations as to the measures needed to move forward. For existing facilities specifically, conscientious Owners already have energy-efficient equipment and rigorous maintenance protocols in place, all they require is to go through the formal certification process, often without any capital expenditure. That is where RJC can help. In today’s world, environmental stewardship is an obligation for us all."