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San Diego International Airport Strikes Parksmart Gold

Image for San Diego International Airport Strikes Parksmart Gold The San Diego International Airport Terminal 2 Parking Plaza has been awarded Parksmart Gold by the USGBC

As part of its successful pursuit of Parksmart Gold certification, the San Diego Regional Airport Authority worked with the design team for the San Diego International Airport Terminal 2 Parking Plaza to integrate design elements that not only promoted sustainable parking, but also elevated the user experience for travelers.

As the airport sits on a harbor, the building’s height was reduced to preserve the impressive harbor views. The resulting expanded footprint created challenges to bringing in enough natural light and ventilation, which is an important component of sustainable parking design. To overcome this challenge, the design team opted for a moment frame structural system and incorporated three expansive lightwells to provide as much natural light as possible.

Image of San Diego International Airport Strikes Parksmart Gold Lightwells designed into the structure provide a sustainable element while also creating a pedestrian gateway featuring public art and other aesthetic touches.

In keeping with the Airport’s goal to provide a premier experience for travelers, the lightwells were then integrated into the design as pedestrian pathways adorned with public art and aesthetic touches such as rock gardens and seating. The result is a sustainable design element that also serves as a relaxing gateway, escorting travelers from the parking structure to the terminal.

The Parking Plaza also utilizes technology to elevate the user experience while decreasing emissions. State-of-the-art parking guidance and revenue control systems not only speed up entry and exit into the facility, but also aid users in finding an open space. This reduces circulation and idling times, which creates a smoother experience for busy travelers while in turn reduces emissions.

In addition to sustainable features that elevate the parking experience for all users, the Parking Plaza rewards those who take steps of their own to protect the environment. EV charging stations, preferred parking for clean air vehicles and easy access to bicycle lockers, a bike sharing station and bus stops are all available to make it easier for travelers to do their part.

Image of San Diego International Airport Strikes Parksmart Gold Signage within the facility promotes many of the Plaza's sustainable initiatives.

The Airport makes an active effort to educate the public not only about these green initiatives, but also the Parking Plaza’s “behind the scenes” sustainable contributions. Signage in the facility outlines many of the facility’s sustainable features, including the steps that were taken to limit the project’s environmental impact during construction, as well as its stormwater system. A 100,000 gallon underground holding system is capable of harvesting up to 2,000,000 gallons of stormwater annually, which is used to feed the central utility plant.

Innovative ways to integrate sustainable design that promote greener parking while also enhancing the parking experience are at the heart of Parksmart, a rating system designed to advance sustainable parking structure design and operation. While the built environment measures the implementation of sustainable best practices using LEED certification, standalone parking structures are not eligible for LEED. Instead they are evaluated using the USGBC’s Parksmart rating. The system breaks best practices into three categories: Management, programs and technology and structure design. Points are awarded and scored at Bronze, Silver and Gold levels.

Watry Design is proud be leading this process for multiple garages, including the San Diego Airport Terminal 2 Parking Plaza’s successful pursuit of Parksmart Gold. 

About the Author

Michael Pendergrass, AIA, a licensed architect in 9 states, has over 15 years of experience in delivering parking solutions and over 20 in the industry. He has worked on a wide variety of parking projects. In addition to delivering projects to satisfied clients, Michael’s projects, such as the San Diego International Airport Terminal 2 Parking Plaza, have received recognition from the International Parking & Mobility Institute and other organizations. 

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