Sustainable City - Greener Parking
Last week the city released a new set of guidelines geared towards improving the environmental standards for all future parking lots. Parking facilities are bad for the environment in at least three reasons: (1) the dark asphalt absorbs sunlight and makes the city warmer, (2) this added heat leads to higher smog levels, and (3) this paving prevents rainwater from entering the ground and is dumped into stormwater sewers. It's bad enough that cars pollute the city when they're moving (which kills people), it's even worse that these storage facilities further add to the city's environmental woes.
The new environmental guidelines for private and municipal parking lots include: adding landscaped areas with irrigation systems, using light-coloured porous paving materials, switching to energy efficient lighting, and adding public art. Unfortunately these guidelines won't apply retroactively to all of the parking lots that are currently out there, but at least they raise the bar for new ones.
The next step for the city should be to hire Plant Architects to make a bold statement and put the green into their "Green P" lots (rendering pictured above). More info on their "Greener P" design, after the jump.
Plant Architects has developed a design scheme that goes well beyond the city's new guidelines. They want to add green walls to replace guard rails and ugly chain link fences. Trees would be added to provide shade to lessen the "heat island effect" and keep people's cars cooler. Their design would also use solar powered lighting that would be totally "off the grid". In addition, the paved surfaces would be made of porous paving, an onsite irrigation system would keep all of the water onsite, and sculptural planting areas would add to the overall ambiance.
Compare the image below with the one at the top. Who would think that a parking lot could offer a pleasant experience?
All images courtesy of Plant Architects
Sustainable City is a weekly column that explores current events and environmental issues in Toronto that impact the health and well being of urban dwellers.
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