Is A Green Parking Garage Like A Kosher Ham?

green parking garage chicago photo

Images Credit John Picken

Blair Kamin, architecture critic for the Chicago Tribune, wonders if a green parking garage is really an oxymoron, like "kosher ham, a peacekeeping missile, or the World Series-winning Cubs." He looks at the HOK designed Greenway Garage in Chicago and doesn't think much of the idea, suggesting that it removes the guilt from driving: ""At least I'm parking my energy-sucking SUV in a building that's saving Mother Earth," customers can assure themselves."

green parking garage chicago photo
Kamin thinks that the building is destined to make LEED look foolish, asking "What's next? Green power plants that have smoke pouring out of giant funnels?"

Kamin notes that the wind turbines are not turning in a brisk breeze and seem to be there more for decoration than function. He continues:

Even if you add up all the energy-saving features that have gone into Greenway Self-Park, including the bike racks and showers available to the garage's staff, they would likely pale in comparison to the energy being expended by the cars that use the building each day. The greenest thing you could do would be not to build the garage at all. It's a classic case of "greenwashing," tacking a few energy-saving features onto a building whose function is inherently unsustainable.

He concludes:

It's not enough to focus on the materials our buildings are made of or the performance of their mechanical systems. If we don't examine how they're used -- what sort of travel patterns they encourage or discourage -- we're shutting our eyes to reality and making a mockery of LEED's efforts to combat climate change.

More in the Chicago Tribune

We have said much the same thing in TreeHugger:

Contradiction in Terms Dept: Sustainable Parking Structure
The Dumbest Green Buildings in TreeHugger
LEED or Not, Parking Garages Are Not Green
The Four Sins of LEEDwashing: LEED Green Buildings That Perhaps Aren't Really Green

Related Content on