23
Apr
08

First LEED-Certified Parking Structure, Santa Monica, California

Santa Monica Civic Center parking structure

Count on California to implement pioneering technologies, especially those related to cars. In Santa Monica, the city’s Green Building Program offers an interesting case study – the first certifiably green parking garage. This article is more oriented toward the technical details, but fortunately, another website, Inhabitat, offers spectacular pictures of the building’s exterior.

As for what the City of Santa Monica itself has to say about it, here is the Project Overview, as presented on their website:

The City of Santa Monica has made an aggressive commitment to becoming more sustainable. The new Civic Center Parking Structure embodies that commitment while at the same time establishing a new aesthetic monument in the City. This parking structure promises to be the first building of its type in the country to receive a LEED-Certified rating through the U.S. Green Building Council. The building features design strategies, materials, products, and construction practices that preserve natural resources, conserve water and energy, and reduce waste.

The page includes photos of many of the details that went into the sustainable design, like the photovoltaic panels on the roof which also provide shade for the top parking level. On the other levels, white ceilings augment the available light which is also bolstered by fluorescent lamps. A solar power inverter takes the energy harvested by the photovoltaic panels, and changes it to alternating current for the building’s needs. Stormwater is filtered and used for landscaping and toilet-flushing. Recycled steel and glass are used, in addition to recycled flyash in the concrete, and the building has outlets for 14 electric vehicles for public use. Alternative transportation is encouraged by the provision of bicycle storage lockers, and signs help the public understand the advantages of the building’s green components.

The building’s creators, Moore Ruble Yudell Architects & Planners, also contribute some remarks:

Pre-cast white, ribbed concrete panels are set in a rhythmic, variegated pattern on all facades. These panels, in shifting locations along the facades, lend a surprising quality that screens the presence of parked cars. On the Fourth Street façade, a series of bays made of channeled colored glass breaks down the scale of the structure, and are set at varying sizes and angles to provide a light, luminous, and ever-changing quality to the viewer.

The considerations related to vehicles and parking are much more complicated than would be apparent to the uneducated eye. Architectural Graphic Standards, 11th Edition devotes several pages of its Building Sitework section to these questions, and then goes into the matter of accessible parking in even greater detail in its Inclusive Design section, including all the specifications for various scenarios. Its introduction on design considerations says:

Creating vital places is the job of those who design, build, finance, and plan the built environment. Unfortunately, too often as acres of asphalt attest, engineering standards are applied cavalierly; they are not used properly to help design the place. Even “just a parking lot” can be made into a place of delight.

We might also want to consider what Bobby Grace asks, at Media & the Environment:

I hope you realize the contradiction of terms here; this is an earth saving structure dedicated to the machine that has arguably accelerated the destruction of the earth…Is this making a joke of LEED certification?

SOURCE: “Santa Monica Civic Center Parking Structure”
photo courtesy of Omar Omar , used under this Creative Commons license

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1 Response to “First LEED-Certified Parking Structure, Santa Monica, California”



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