For improving worldwide parking lots to make them more environmentally responsible and aesthetically pleasing are as follows:
- Better design. Citing Miami’s car park as a prime example, drawing on great design principles would be able to restore cities and spaces to be proud of, and should add joy to the routine of driving, working and shopping.
- Using new technology. A wide range of technological developments are constantly improving parking lots; from robotic car parks to parking guidance systems; pay and display to pay by mobile phone.
- Reducing environmental impact. A key component is the heat generated by the asphalt surfaces. This is contributing to the “urban heat island” phenomenon which makes cities warmer than surrounding rural areas. A range of solutions are underway to harness this energy, from covering lots with solar panels, to developing reflective asphalt, to creating energy by heating water running in pipes beneath the lots.
- Using the space above. Either through car parks built underneath existing buildings and developments; or the construction of multi-level car parks; the smaller land usage reduces their impact significantly.
- Digging up car parks. Activists are determined to go one step further. By digging up car parks and celebrating the ‘rebirth of a new greenspace’, and creating permeable space instead of paved lots.
Putting some numbers around research
Ben-Joseph claims that there are an estimated 800 million car parking spaces in the US – one for every car – and amounting to around 9,104 sq km of land space. Covering this whole area with solar panels could generate enough electricity to power 11 million households for a month. Alternatively, he claims that covering 50% of this area with trees could remove 1,260,805 tons of carbon dioxide per year.
We are not sure where the cars would go otherwise!