Fort Lauderdale airport takes 'smart' approach to parking
Airports have long understood why smartly-designed buildings and systems that maximize efficiency and minimize environmental impact can boost their bottom line.
Several U.S. airports have earned environmentally-focused recognition, such as the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED certification, for their terminal design and construction innovation. Only recently, however, has one been rewarded for its environmentally sustainable parking efforts.
As part of the USGBC’s holistic approach to sustainability in the built environment, the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) has embraced transportation and parking infrastructure through its Parksmart Certification program. The facility recently earned the certification, becoming the first airport to achieve the honor given for excellence and efficiency in its parking design and management, according to Aviation Pros.
FLL has achieved certification for its largest garage and is on the path to certifying its two other garages.
FLL’s certification process offers critical lessons for airports worldwide about applying the Parksmart concepts to their sites and navigating the certification process, officials said.
What is Parksmart?
USGBC Parksmart certification recognizes parking structures that demonstrate advanced environmental sustainability and efficiency in their design, programming and management. It applies to both new and existing buildings and, unlike prescriptive certification systems that focus primarily on the building design and construction, Parksmart also considers facilities’ ongoing operational aspects.
The Certification Standard considers a wide range of sustainability initiatives. Some of these are commonplace, such as considering whether a facility charges for parking (which reduces demand) and provides pay-on-foot kiosks (which allow for quick exits). Other initiatives are more advanced, such as conducting a life-cycle assessment to determine the environmental impact over the course of a garage’s useful life, or employing energy storage systems such as battery backup, which helps stabilize the electrical grid. The various initiatives enable Parksmart accessibility for a wide range of garages.
The Parksmart process at FLL was initiated by officials who were passionate about sustainability and extending the existing airport-wide priorities into the parking structures.
FLL’s executive management has for many years embraced resource efficiency and sustainability as a way to minimize operating expenses, as well as an environmentally beneficial strategy. Long before starting the Parksmart certification process, FLL had been noteworthy for its attention to design and place-making, and its environmental efficiency practices. Since Broward County, Florida owns the parking structures and contracts with parking operator SP+ for operations and customer management, both SP+ and the airport have consistently prioritized efficiency.
Place-making is one of the FLL campus’ key aspects, including extensive green spaces, picnic areas and tree buffer zones, a decorative blue and white patterned façade on the exterior of Cypress garage, public art displays, aesthetically appealing interior design, an airport observation platform and a pet relief area for furry passengers. Features including a cell phone lot for patrons to wait for arriving passengers without idling at the curb, EV charging stations, in-garage vehicle assistance and a backup power source to avoid using the emergency generator all enhance the client experience while improving efficiency and reducing emissions.
Similarly, FLL’s traffic management, including single-space wayfinding for patrons to locate parking spaces, entrances and exits, helps patrons and reduces unnecessary vehicle circling and idling. FLL has also incorporated the State of Florida SunPass toll transponder system into the exit system, along with the more typical pay-on-foot payment kiosks, to further reduce idling from exiting vehicles.
What does Parksmart mean for customers?
Customers at FLL can charge their electric vehicles, enjoy place-making elements and make a reservation for a parking space using their cell phones before arrival. A traveler on a long layover or whose final destination is Fort Lauderdale can take the free Sun Trolley to the beach or city center.
A local resident passing through the garage to retrieve a vehicle can learn about and decide to adopt the energy efficiency strategies highlighted in the educational signage. Drivers arriving at the airport can take advantage of the single-space wayfinding and reservation system, while departing patrons can enjoy a tire inflation and a quick exit thanks to the SunPass transponder or pre-paid parking ticket.
Companies: U.S. Green Building Council