One of the most powerful ways to impact the environment without inconveniencing people is to change the municipal regulations regarding parking lots. Currently, retailers must provide a set number of parking spaces, plus additional handicapped spaces, for each square foot of built space. As a result, parking lots for retail are huge and have an excessive capacity for the majority of the time.
This point was brought home during resurfacing of a local strip mall lot: literally, half of the parking area was closed off, yet there were still empty spaces at a peak time on the weekend. Why did that whole area of fertile Iowa farmland need to be paved over just to sit empty?
Parking lot regulations are formula-driven and that calculation has served builders well for many years. But as more people opt for online purchasing or on-site pickup instead of parking, it’s time to revisit the requirements for how much land must become asphalt, yet be destined to sit idle the majority of the time.
Standard parking lot regulations usually translate to about 10 parking spots for every 1000 feet of retail space. (A small Target averages 40,000 sq ft = 400 parking spots vs. a large Target at 130,000 sq ft = 1300 parking spots). Not only do the parking lots have a negative environmental impact to make them, as asphalt and concrete production is energy-intensive, but they continue to cause issues when the water that drains off of them picks up contaminants instead of allowing rain to directly permeate the earth.
What is the equivalent of a parking lot ratio in your organization – something that you have not reconsidered for years but maybe could use a recalculation to reflect more contemporary times? It’s worth a look to avoid ongoing investments in something that is just wasted because no one bothered to do an update.