Parking Lots are Greener with Shade

Landscape architect Buck Abbey conducted research on parking lots as part of the Green Laws Research Project. Parking lots are America’s most often used outdoor space and, unfortunately, most have harmful effects on people, animals and the environment. The solution is green parking lots.

Buck reports, “Greening a parking lot transforms a hot, dusty, dirty layer of paving … into a more wholesome urban forest setting.” Rather than the exposed, oily concrete slabs of conventional parking lots that result in heat islands and toxic runoff, green parking lots contain trees and other vegetation that manage storm water, preserve soil, filter the air, produce oxygen and provide shade.

The Power of Shade

Shade breaks up the expanses of concrete and asphalt that hold and radiate heat. This abates the “urban heat islands” that can cause temperatures in these areas to be up to 7 degrees higher during the day, increase the amount of energy used to cool buildings, vehicles and people, and cause air and water quality issues. According to Buck’s study, lowering temperatures with shade also reduces the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are released from vehicles stored in the sun.

Sunshades from Apollo Sunguard

Many communities are enacting landscape codes that require parking lot shading. The most effective way to ensure parking lot shade is with pre-engineered fabric shade structures, such as those from Apollo Sunguard. Overhead shading structures can be used to enhance existing tree canopies and to provide supplemental shade while trees mature.

Apollo Sunguard shades are made with a high-density, breathable fabric that offers 70 percent to 95 percent shade and 91 percent to 96 percent UV block. Designed to mimic the natural canopy of trees, Apollo Sunguard shade structures allow air circulation and reduce temperatures underneath by up to 20 degrees. Shade structures can keep car interiors up to 100 degrees cooler than those parked in an open lot, resulting in less VOCs released, less deterioration of the vehicle and less energy needed to cool the vehicle and occupants.

Green Building Programs

Apollo Sunguard shades can be used to earn sustainability credits under the LEED and SITES green building programs. Buck calls shade structures “perhaps one of the best ways to shade pavements” and “one of the major distinctions of a green parking lot.”

Apollo Sunguard offers cantilevered shade structures designed specifically for parking lots. They have large canopies with no side posts between spaces that would impede parking. The specially treated, UV-blocking polyethylene shade fabric used by Apollo Sunguard is mold, mildew, fire and wind resistant, designed to have a long lifespan, and recyclable.

Parking lot shade structures work best when planned in tandem with other features. Trees and shade can work together to provide shade throughout the day as the angle of the sun changes. Shade structures can also be equipped with lighting systems, surveillance devices, solar panels and EV charging stations. Work with Apollo Sunguard’s professional shade designers to design the perfect shade for your green parking lot or other green building project.

The Research is In on Green Parking and Shade

Download the Green Parking and Shade report authored by landscape architect Buck Abbey to learn how adding shade and other green elements reduce the environmental impact of parking lots.

Environmental & Economical Benefits of Shade Structures:

  • Clean Energy Solution
  • Abate Urban Heat Island Effect
  • Immediate & Low Maintenance
  • Improves Curb Appeal & Comfort
  • Reduces Energy Consumption

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