With the growing popularity of eco-friendly vehicles, packaging, clothing, homes, and more, it’s time for us to start considering eco-friendly parking lot construction.
There are many eco-friendly parking lot solutions, including eco-friendly pavers, pervious concrete, and direct paths for water runoff.
Today, we want to take you through a few of our favorite eco-friendly parking lot solutions so you can provide an ample place for parking while doing your part to protect the environment.
How Do Parking Lots Affect The Environment?
Did you know that the environmental costs of a parking structure can exceed the environmental costs of cars?
Creating and maintaining a parking lot requires a large amount of energy and produces an even greater amount of emissions over the course of its lifetime. Beyond that, parking lots often accumulate pollutants, including grease, oils, sediment, and heavy metals.
When it rains, the water washes these pollutants off into waterways, creating a significant environmental impact.
Furthermore, the more parking lots we have, the less green space we have room to maintain.
How Do You Make an Eco-Friendly Parking Lot?
Use Eco-Friendly Paint
Paint is one of the most common air pollutants. Many types of paint contain Volatile Organic Compounds, such as xylene, toluene hydrocarbons, ammonia, and glycol. These paints are far from eco-friendly and can wreak havoc on the health of humans, animals, and plants.
Consider bio-degradable paints for your parking lot, containing little to no VOCs.
Direct Water Runoff
Focus on where the rainwater will go when constructing your parking lot. Water will go its natural course if you don’t, eroding soil, damaging your asphalt, and bringing pollutants with it. Therefore, it’s a good idea to construct some type of drainage system that directs rainwater to an area that’s appropriate, such as a lake, swamp, or stream.
Use Eco-Friendly Pavers
The best solution for an eco-friendly parking lot is permeable locking pavers. These unique pavers allow for water infiltration, unlike your standard asphalt or concrete tarmacking. With these kinds of pavers, you don’t need to worry about flooding nearly as much, as rainwater slowly seeps into the ground to recharge local streams and groundwater supply.
Use Pervious Concrete
While not as green as the pavers mentioned above, pervious concrete provides an element of infiltration when well-maintained. Similar to a plastic pavement system, pervious concrete provides natural rainwater filtration and reduces the number of pollutants found in runoff.
Not only do grass parking lots look great, but they are also wonderfully sustainable. Of course, you can’t just plant any only grass, as regular grass attract rut and mud. Instead, we recommend planting plastic pavers to stabilize the grass you plant, thereby improving drainage while keeping your infrastructure intact.
DO NOTE: Grass is best for parking lots with light traffic. Heavy traffic can kill the grass, leaving you with a bare, ugly, and dead parking lot.
Plant the Correct Plants
It’s a good idea to plant plants native to your parking lot’s region, as these plants should be well-adapted to the moisture of the soil and the local climate. For example, consider planting trees and shrubs for islands or planting long flower beds or strips atop raised curbing. Not only will this make your parking lot more eco-friendly, but it will also make it far more inviting.
Use Recycled Concrete or Asphalt
You can produce an eco-friendly parking lot with recycled concrete and asphalt. The beauty of this process is that it is far less resource-intensive compared to using new materials. In addition, it’s often easy to recycle these materials from old roadways on-site as well, getting rid of the need for environmentally impactful outsourcing.
Use a Bio-Based Asphalt Sealant
Regular asphalt can take a mighty toll on the environment, which is why it’s a good idea to find ways to make your asphalt as eco-friendly as possible. We recommend finding PAH-free, low-VOC bio-based asphalt sealants. Not only do these work wonders in repairing and resealing surfaces, but they are also much better for the environment than standard products.
Not only do shade trees and landscaping make for a more aesthetically-pleasing parking lot, but they can also lessen ground heat, enhance air quality, and reduce rainwater runoff. With pervious ground materials and proper shading, you can mitigate the negative impacts of the “urban heat island.”
Use Sustainable Lighting
While you should absolutely have lighting in your parking lot to provide safety and security for pedestrians, it’s important that you choose the correct type of lighting to retain energy-efficiency. We often recommend energy-efficient exterior LED lights, as they last a long time (up to 50,000 hours) and have far less impact on energy sources.
You can even implement an efficient lighting layout that maintains higher brightness levels in areas with more traffic while placing other lights in low-traffic areas on a motion system.
Factors to Consider
Modern eco-friendly parking lot construction costs around $69 per square foot, while a simple asphalt paving job costs around $3.85 per square foot. Beyond that, you can expect a few other standard costs for building a sustainable parking lot:
- Operation and Maintenance – $0.15 per square foot
- Drainage System – $45 to $60 per linear foot
- Striping – $346,000 for a 500-vehicle lot
Of course, the main benefit of building an eco-friendly parking lot is that you can reduce your maintenance and energy costs over time.
It’s important to select the right location to build your parking lot, as it can significantly impact cost, safety, durability, and effectiveness. Make sure to consider a few things:
- Accessibility – How easy it is to reach the site
- Topography – The higher ground your parking lot sits on, the better your natural drainage will be
- Quality of Earth – Don’t build on hilly topography or muddy areas
- Soil – Find soil that is dry and compact enough to build on
With the right amount of research and proper planning, constructing an eco-friendly parking lot can be cost-effective. Environmental protection and conservation start at ground level. YOU can make the change today.