Sustainability In the Real Estate Industry
An Interview with Jonathan Grobstein of Rise Realty
Jonathan Grobstein is the head of investment research and sustainability at Rise…Read More
With the number of cars set to reach two billion by 2040, there is no doubt that the demand for parking spaces has increased at a similar rate. In a society where cars remain the dominant form of transportation, parking lots are just as essential as roads. However, many people do not realize that parking lots generate a variety of environmental problems.
The external costs that come from parking lots include environmental degradation and harmful land-use impacts. Many parking lots are designed to have more spaces than required, which increases the amount of detrimental land use. Further, the environmental costs of parking infrastructure can be higher than that of cars.
The biggest concern regarding parking infrastructures is the total amount of energy consumed to build and maintain them. Further, most parking lots are created with concrete, which has devastating environmental implications: cement production is responsible for 8% of the world’s CO2 emissions.
In addition to the construction of the parking lots being a primary concern, parking lots are a huge contributor to the urban heat island effect, which can raise temperatures by 2 to 3 degrees Celsius. This effect is when common construction materials, like concrete, absorb and retain more of the sun’s heat than other minerals. Hence, it contributes to hotter temperatures in metropolitan cities.
If the Earth increases its temperature by another 2-3 degrees Celsius, many regions will become unsustainable for humanity. The world has not seen this rise in temperature in a million years. With a 2-degree Celsius increase, the entire Greenland ice sheet, which is about three times the size of Texas and two miles thick, may melt; hence, it will lead to a 30ft increase in sea level.
Boston won’t be spared from global warming. The city currently has the climate of a mid-Atlantic state; however, at a 2-degree Celsius increase, Boston’s summers will be equivalent to that of Southern Florida’s.
It must also be considered that the opportunity cost of creating parking lots are green spaces. With the demand for massive amounts of land to be used for parking spaces, there will be less room for green and public spaces.
Due to all the detrimental effects of creating more parking spaces, green and sustainable parking is essential. Materials, designs, and technology can considerably reduce the environmental costs of parking and maximize efficiency. Greener parking will not only respect the environment but benefit communities by optimizing the supply and providing sustainable infrastructures.