An 'Earth Friendly' Parking Garage in Chicago Begs the Question: What is 'Green'?

With wind turbines, a "daylighting" system, and charging stations for electric cars, Chicago's Greenway Self-Park bills itself as the city's first "earth friendly parking garage." John Greenfield asks, can a downtown garage truly be eco-friendly?

Built by Friedman Properties, the eleven-story, 715-space parking garage does not shy from showcasing its "green" credentials. "Its logo features a VW Bug with leaves blowing out of the tailpipes rather than noxious fumes," says Greenfield. But even though it was "constructed from 'local and sustainable' building materials" and rents spaces to Zipcar and I-GO car-sharing services, is there anything green about a facility that makes "it easy for, say, a guy from Naperville to drive solo to work every day in his Lexus, instead of taking Metra commuter rail," asks Greenfield. 

Michael Burton, a sustainable transportation activist who co-founded Chicago's Critical Mass ride offers his unvarnished answer: "A green parking structure!" he emails. "What's next, a LEED-certified strip mine? Any infrastructure that encourages private automobile use instead of rapid transit, walking and/or biking is inherently environmentally unfriendly. Using green technology to market a new parking structure is simply cynical greenwashing. A s- sandwich with honey mustard is still a s- sandwich."

Dave Lombardi, vice president with garage manager Standard Parking, offers a sound defense: "If the reasoning is we should eliminate all garages, well, that isn't living in reality. It's easy to stand back and criticize, but Friedman Properties has put forth the dollars to pass along the message of environmentalism. In a perfect world all cars would be electric and there would be no exhaust. But to get to a completely green society there are some stops along the way."

Full Story: Green parking or greenwashing: can a downtown garage be eco-friendly?

Comments

Comments

Raises the Question

"Begs the Question: What is 'Green'?"

Sorry for this picky comment, but this use of "begs the question" really annoys me.

For the actual meaning of that phrase, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Begging_the_question

Charles Siegel

Book cover of the Guide to Graduate Planning Programs 4th Edition

Thinking about Grad School?

New! 4th Edition of the Planetizen Guide to Graduate Urban Planning Programs just released.
Starting at $24.95

Prepare for the AICP Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $209
Book cover of Where Things Are from Near to Far

Where Things Are From Near to Far

This engaging children's book about planning illustrates that "every building has its place."
$19.95

Essential Readings in Urban Planning

Planning on taking the AICP* Exam? Register for Planetizen's AICP * Exam Preparation Course to save $50.
$369 includes free shipping!