Parking lots are the antithesis of sustainability—cold, hard seas of concrete and (mostly) petroleum-fueled cars. But they don't have to be that way, as Dell and Envision Solar recently showed us. Envision completed a renewable energy installation in the parking lot of Dell's Round Rock, Texas headquarters that uses 512 solar panels to give shelter to 56 cars and provide over 130 kW of power to Dell facilities. The Solar Grove installation also juices up two Envision Solar CleanCharge solar charging stations for EVs and PHEVs. Below, we take a look at three more examples of parking structures turned into centers of sustainability.
People-Powered Check-Out Lines
A Sainsbury supermarket in Gloucester, England recently started using kinetic road plates in its parking lot to power its checkout lines. Sainsbury's plates are pushed down by the weight of vehicles, creating a rocking motion that turns generators. The generators produce energy that is captured and used inside the supermarket. The plates produce 30 kWh of energy each hour from cars passing over them—more than enough power for the supermarket's lines.
LEED-Certified Parking Structure
The Santa Monica Civic Center boasts the first LEED-certified parking garage in the U.S. The ultra high-tech garage features a rooftop solar array, low-VOC paints and finishes, free bike storage, and a gray-water harvesting system that uses storm runoff for landscaping and Civic Center facilities.
Solar Parking Lot
Dell isn't the only company to experience the benefits of a solar parking lot. Google led the charge in 2006 with a 1.6 MW solar system featuring 9,000 panels, a third of which are overhanging parking shades at the company's Mountain View headquarters. The panels provide enough energy for 1,000 homes, or 30% of Google HQ's needs.