The World’s First Sustainable Parking Structure


James Howard Kunstler‘s Eyesore of the Month of July is the nation’s first LEED-certified, "sustainable solar-powered parking structure." Yep. Only in California. Kunstler writes:

Apparently nobody informed these idiots that happy motoring is not a sustainable activity, and neither is the parking that necessarily attends it. This is apart from the sheer appalling monumental ugliness of the building. The official PR handout is a prime example of how America is blowing green smoke up its own ass:

The six-story, 882-space structure at the Civic Center features photovoltaic roof panels, a storm drain water treatment system, recycled construction materials and energy efficient mechanical systems.

The $29 million structure — which sits near the entrance and exit ramps at the end of the 10 Freeway — also features ground-floor retail, art works on every floor and sweeping city and ocean views.

City officials hope the 290,000-square-foot-garage will become the nation’s first parking structure certified by the U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

The structure’s photovoltaic panels — which cost $1.5 million — will pay for themselves in 17 years by generating $90,000 a year in electricity," said Craig Perkins, director of Environmental and Public Works Management for the City.

Ground control to Santa Monica: in 17 years the automobile age will be over.

Photo: !architect4!/Flickr

  • New Math

    “America is blowing green smoke up its own ass”

    Nominee for quote of the year. Boy is Kunstler cranky and nutty, but often right.

  • Gizler

    I can’t believe they spent $30 million on a parking garage.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    At first I was kind of shaking my head and chuckling something about L.A., but I thought it was a privately funded and built garage. Knowing that this eyesore was built with public money, well, it’s a disgrace. $30 million would buy at least 25 buses to add service for the residents of Santa Monica. Of course lots more people drive than take buses; does that mean that they deserve more services?

    The U.S. Green Building Council should simply not allow parking garages to get LEED certification; it contradicts everything they purport to stand for.

  • anonymous

    And this isn’t the only garage in Santa Monica, it’s just the fanciest looking. There are a whole 10 parking structures in the downtown area, and if each cost this much, or even $20 million each, that’s already something like half of cost of the light rail line that is getting built to Santa Monica. And the point of all those parking garages? For people to be able to come and walk around on Santa Monica’s quite popular pedestrian mall, the Third Street Promenade.

  • mork

    This is great. Also, whenever there’s an oil spill, they should also immediately retrofit the broken tanker ship with solar panels.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    Green oil spills, I love it, Mork! Maybe they can also install solar panels on depleted strip mine sites and chopped-down rainforests.

  • Tom

    While I agree that the whole concept of a “sustainable carpark” is an absurdity, I think the building itself looks pretty good. Mind you, while I agree with him on issues of sustainability and urban planning, I don’t share Kunstler’s distaste for modernist architecture.

  • Steve

    I’ve driven by this building many times not even knowing what it is. Upon doing a little research, I’ve discovered that the city has big plans for that Civic Center Area. They also plan to retrofit and replace the six structures in downtown Santa Monica. In other words, more parking was needed somewhere.

    I understand the contradiction here, but try telling all the business owners that nobody will have a place to park for a while. Whether we like it or not, most people in LA (especially those with disposable income) drive their own cars. If we HAVE to have a parking structure, it might as well be “green”. Besides, haven’t you noticed how boring and smelly the downtown lots are?


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