Parking as an Earth Friendly pursuit

Maybe they should have put solar panels on it too, I mean, its sunny in the photo.

Maybe they should have put solar panels on it too, I mean, its sunny in the photo.

01.10.2012

The Greenest Parking Garage ever!!!

It is said that the most sustainable, or “green,” building is the one that is never built. The same idea can be applied to parking garages. If you don’t offer hundreds of newly available, cheap parking spots, then hundreds more cars are discouraged from driving to the area. The USGBC decided last May to discontinue LEED certification for any parking projects going forward. This project snuck in before that decision, and was tracked as a LEED job, although my researchers found no evidence that it ever received certification. It’s called “Green Way Self Park,” and is located on the northeast corner of Kinzie and Clark in Chicago’s River North neighborhood, and happens to be two blocks from the CTA’s Merchandise Mart Brown/Purple line stop and six blocks away from the Red Line station at Grand. The eleven-story car storage facility calls itself “Chicago’s first Earth-Friendly parking facility.” And while that is nice and all (if you’re going to build it, build it green), after you add all these “sustainable practices,” it’s still a huge investment of material and land just to make driving into the city center more convenient. It’s self-defeating and oxymoronic, but in a developer-driven, oil-fueled, profit-at-all-costs market, it makes sense.

But what’s really irresponsible is the ten-story wind turbine prominently not working on the building’s southwest corner. When I was at the garage this morning, I saw one of the turbines lazily perform one full rotation, and when I figure out how to upload video content, you will see this act of environmental stewardship as well. This goes beyond the ridiculousness of the idea of a “green parking garage” and can be viewed by the lay public as a billboard for the futility of exploring alternative forms of energy production. It would have been better for Chicago if they had never have built the garage, and left the need for electricity on the site at zero. The greenest parking garage is the definitely the one never built. As a piece of sculpture, the garage is compelling. As an example of ecologically responsible development, it is a tragic failure.

next: Neo-Mannerist Queen Anne style spec condos

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