Written by: Katie Vrabel & Brian Keller
Or parking garages in general? As a patron, the answer is probably no, unless you’re in the midst of searching for the best spot closest to a stairwell or elevator bank. As a property manager or owner, the opposite is likely true. Parking garages, while not as shiny and visible as a building lobby or entryway, are still a priority when evaluating energy efficiency goals and budgeting for improvements.
In many parking garages, lighting is on 24-7-365 to provide a sense of safety and comfort. This can add up quickly to additional run times, product burnout, and higher replacement rates unnecessarily. By evaluating other alternatives to increase lighting quality and customer comfort, many options exist to provide these benefits while simultaneously decreasing energy costs.
First things first, the installation of LEDs will significantly increase the lighting quality of a parking structure – either through new fixtures or lamp replacements. Adding occupancy sensors to these will allow the lights to dim or have a portion turn off while patrons are not in a specific area. This will greatly reduce energy usage during slow periods of the day when cars are not moving in and out of the garage as often as the morning and evening rush hour periods. Occupancy sensors can be configured in multiple ways to fit the operation of your garage and ensure there is always enough lighting to maintain a safe environment. Further, by installing programmed photocell daylight sensors on the exterior perimeter and near-perimeter interior lighting to take advantage of natural lighting, the savings are even greater.
For fully enclosed garages, installing demand-controlled ventilation (DCV) to the ventilation system is another energy-saving option. The addition of DCV will use carbon monoxide sensors to measure the activity of cars in the garage. During periods of high activity, the ventilation system will be ramped up to remove the car exhaust and bring in fresh air. During periods of low activity, the ventilation system will be ramped down to remove less air from the garage. DCV provides savings three-fold by reducing the electricity consumed by the ventilation fan motors when the system ramps down and reducing heating and cooling costs by reducing the amount of conditioned air being removed unnecessarily during periods of low activity.
Waypoint recently worked with a partner in Michigan to evaluate their efficiency opportunities and update a parking structure to become more efficient. By taking advantage of available utility incentives, the implemented lighting project resulted in over $10,000 in annual energy cost savings! Now the parking garage is not only using less energy, but the consistent brightness and coverage within the structure have improved significantly.
Looking for ways to improve your parking structure or exterior? Reach out to the Waypoint team to find opportunities and incentives.