Thursday, May 1, 2008

Space Allocation and Parking

I'm at the American Planning Association's National Conference this week - it's been a lot of fun and I've attended lots of very interesting sessions - you will see more posts about what I've learned over the next couple of days.

One session I attended really sticks out, and not for the reason the presenter intended. The session was called "The Environment and Sustainability in Transit Evaluation" by Eric Bruun. His discussion focused on how to incorporate monetary, non-monetary, quantitative, and qualitative variables into a cost/benefit analysis for transit.

The "aha" moment for me had not to do with transit evaluation, but with one simple sentence: "the average office gives more space per employee for parking than it does for their office." Shocking, but true! Let's look at the numbers:

  • Office - 64 to 150 NSF/person. 64 SF for a workstation/cubicle; 150 SF for an office.
  • Parking - 170 - 290 SF/car. Size depends on configuration (perpendicular, angled, parallel, etc.) and zoning laws.
Useable: (I think this is the better measure because it applies to any office employee, regardless of whether they sit in a workstation or office)
  • Office - 200 USF/person is a GSA standard. This includes not only your desk/office, but also your share of circulation around your desk, part of the conference room, pantry, copy room, etc.
  • Parking - 275 to 350 SF/car. This includes circulation around the parking lot.
Of course there are lots of factors playing in, such as does the office provide parking on a 1 spot: 1 employee ratio or less. Regardless, it really made me think, and could be a great argument when talking to clients about reasons to locate near transit, encourage carpools, etc.

Image source: Copely Society


Green-A said...

A really valid point!

With structured parking facilities, the cost of parking really adds up. Unfortunately many of the clients I work with on green building projects still feel like they can't lease office space if they don't provide an adequate amount of parking. If the true cost of parking was reflected on lease agreements the same way interior square footage is, maybe prospective tenants would think twice about demanding so much parking.

With surface parking, it's pretty inexpensive (materials, labor) to provide all those spaces and it generally happens where land is cheaper than in urban centers and destinations are farther apart, so cars are the preferred means of travel.

If we can start to build the cost of parking in suburban office parks into the cost of the lease, this too might incentivise company-sponsered shuttles or carpool programs to help employees make other choices when travelling to work.

Transportation and land use are inexorably linked and you can't have a discussion about sustainable development without bringing both issues to the table.

Sounds like a great session - is the presentation available to share?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info….I am trying to put together a list of what celebs are doing to help the environment. Ed Begley Jr. is having a sweepstakes where he flys you to Hollywood and gives you tips on how to go green ( ) Pretty crazy stuff. Obviously there are many others. Drop me a link if you have any on the top of your head. Thanks again for the info!

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