Skip to main content

The Parking Professional: Taking Parksmart Responsibility

Original Source:  "Taking Parksmart Responsibility" by Michelle Wendler for The Parking Professional, July 2017

Image of The Parking Professional: Taking Parksmart Responsibility

It is great news that the Green Parking Council's Green Garage Certification program has transitioned into Parksmart under Green Building Certification, Inc. (GBCI). The understanding that parking design can be green is becoming mainstream. Those of us in the parking industry already knew we could contribute to the larger environmental picture, and taking the work of dedicated parking professionals to create that framework and then have it adopted into the overall approach to green building design is a true success. The program is becoming even more integrated with LEED as the "Synergies Between Parksmart and LEED" framework has been released (visit /parksmartpaper).

There are some wonderful examples of certified projects and numerous projects in the pipeline headed toward certification. If you have been considering having your parking project join this group, you might be wondering what it takes to get there.

Image of The Parking Professional: Taking Parksmart Responsibility Stanford University's Roble Field Parking Structure is pursuing Parksmart Gold certification

Incorporate from the Start

As all building projects start with a program and a budget, it is critical to incorporate the Parksmart concepts as early as possible. While you can play catch-up later, it is much easier to put some of these concepts into place during the initial planning of a project.

Achieving Parksmart certification becomes a collaboration between the owner, design professional, and contractor. Each of these entities is responsible for a portion of the puzzle to achieve certification. Many of the objectives require operational decisions that will continue beyond the design and construction of the project, for which owners must take responsibility. More than 30 percent of the 248 total points in the Parksmart program are under the primary control of the owner, who provides documentation to achieve points. More than 50 percent of the points are within the primary control of the design professional, and more than 10 percent are in the primary control of the contractor.


Numerous points require collaboration to provide the documentation, so careful planning and early understanding of the points necessary for certification is critical. It is often difficult to recreate the documentation necessary for achieving points after the fact; this may contribute to not being awarded points during the certification process.

The Parksmart framework has three main categories plus an innovation category. Category A is management, Category B is programs, and Category C is technology and structure design. It may not be completely obvious where each entity fits into the overall responsibility. Because applicants must achieve a minimum of 20 points in each category and it is not realistic to achieve all points in a category by one entity, it is good to meet and divide up responsibility for documentation at the outset of the project.

About the Author

Michelle Wendler, AIA has been creating parking solutions for the firm’s clients for over 30 years. Michelle is a licensed architect in 12 states. She is responsible for the design of over 350 parking projects and leads parking studies and parking structure design for the firm. A member of the International Parking & Mobility Institute, Michelle has penned and spoken on a number of industry topics, such as Healthcare Parking as the First Line of Customer Service, Incorporating Photovoltaics into Parking Structures & Parking Structure Aesthetics.

Read More