Parking Garages Are Going Green

The bright lights of the Neon Garage. (Credit: Neon Garage).

They’re calling it a “juice bar,” and it’s free! New Haven, Connecticut’s Neon Garage is opening its new cost-free recharging station for electric cars on Monday.

This is definitely a parking garage with a difference. The opening ceremony will be attended by the mayor, a pack of EVs from the New England Electric Auto Association and Mundy Hepburn, actress Katharine’s nephew, will be on hand to show off his “luminous glass sculptures.” His first exhibit there, back in 1989, featured a pink Cadillac in neon.

Neon Garage, operated by ProPark America, offers EVs 30 percent discounts. ProPark’s corporate environmental manifesto includes a pledge to “make the environment an important part of our planning and decision making process.” The company uses solar to generate electricity for parking equipment, and operates natural gas shuttle buses.

In seaside New London, Connecticut, a city-owned garage operated by ProPark is run by an ex-arts administrator who wants to put solar panels on the open top floor to power electric charging stations similar to what Neon Garage is offering.

And, around the country, rooftop solar for parking garages is starting to catch on. In California, Envision Solar is trying to raise $2 million to put solar and EV charging in parking garages, and is pursuing the idea, too, calling them “solar trees” or solar carports. The tricky part, according to one blogger, will be orienting the panels for southern exposure.

And semiconductor maker Applied Materials has already put a 2.1-megawatt system in its Silicon Valley lot. Wow, talk about an idea whose time seems to have come: Park, plug in, and then take off, fully charged.