Beyond the Build

Construction Trends

Unpaving Paradise

I’ve written a couple of times about changing parking needs. I read this most interesting article recently on the different ways cities are rethinking the means and methods of parking, and the why behind the movement. Did you know that in U.S. cities, parking occupies approximately a third of land area? It’s estimated that nationwide, we have eight parking spaces for every car! 

Parking minimums have been around since the 1950s, and for a long time, the design standards for parking remained fairly stagnant. I can remember many a job where we would spend hours trying to get to parking ratios required by the municipality. Today, if some of those same projects were built with surface parking, 2 fewer acres of land would be needed. Imagine the savings in land cost, maintenance and the carbon footprint.

While surface parking is the least expensive form of parking, it is also the most inefficient in an urban environment. Structured parking is the most efficient and also the most costly. There are lots of wins to be obtained in the parking world with the help of new technology, but it still remains a balancing act between cost, carbon, the environment and convenience.

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Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.