This page is about open source sustainable parking lot construction. Note, we’re not experts in building parking lots. We’ve done an immense amount of research on the topic though because of our need for a 500-space sustainable parking lot design (click here for why) as as part of the open source One Community 7-sustainable villages Highest Good housing plan.
We share all we’ve learned with the following sections:
NOTE: THIS PAGE IS NOT CONSIDERED BY US TO BE A COMPLETE AND USABLE TUTORIAL UNTIL WE FINISH OUR OWN CONSTRUCTION OF THIS COMPONENT, CONFIRM ALL THE DETAILS, AND ADD TO THIS PAGE ALL THE RELATED VIDEOS, EXPERIENCE, AND OTHER UPDATES FROM THAT BUILD. IN THE MEANTIME, YOU CAN HELP US COMPLETE IT ALL SOONER WITH THE FOLLOWING OPTIONS:
A sustainable parking lot should be eco-friendly, effective, durable, beautiful, easy to build, economical, replicable, accessible (both economically and to people with disabilities and/or kids), require the least amount of human hours to maintain and create, and be able to be constructed by average people with average means using local materials. We started our research with these criteria and are developing here the step-by-step guide covering everything you need to know to build a do-it-yourself sustainable parking lot like this. Our desire here is to cover the entire process, from location analysis and selection tips, to maintenance and how to prolong its lifespan, to suggestions for ensuring optimal sustainability & eco-friendliness of all processes and materials.
When complete, this guide will also provide specific suppliers in the USA and links to other vendors and open source projects working to create the needed tools. As we conduct our own construction as part of the open source One Community 7-sustainable villages Highest Good housing plan, we’ll also includes tips for how to manage the project and keep your team safe, engaged, interested, productive, and overall happy with the process.
This open source construction guide will be the tutorial our project managers use once we move to the site and start building our own sustainable parking lot. As part of our due diligence and design process, we collaborate with others and research what we’ll need to construct a component like this. Open source publishing this content so others may benefit from our efforts is something we consider for Highest Good of All®. When complete, One Community and others looking to create sustainable parking lots will save time and money by applying the knowledge and practices presented here.
Alvaro Hernández: Open Source Tech Consultant, Developer
Daniela Andrea Parada: Civil Engineering Student
David Na: Project Management Adviser/Engineer
Mark Wambua: Civil Engineer
Yomi Sanyaolu: Mechanical Engineering Graduate and Technical Writer
Constructing a parking lot, sustainably or otherwise, is an extensive undertaking. It requires a significant investment of time/labor, money, and resources. Proper planning and design will make your parking lot more sustainable by addressing problems before they arise, saving time and money, improving the durability of your parking lot, and making the entire construction process more enjoyable for everyone involved.
We discuss here the complete parking lot design and construction process with the following sections:
Paving an asphalt parking lot requires the following steps1:
Asphalt is the preferred material for parking lots because of its durability, cost effectiveness, and versatility2. There are other ways to construct a parking lot but none of them compare long term to the durability of asphalt and that makes them all much more expensive and labor intensive in the long run.
When we construct our parking lot, we’ll add here videos discussing and teaching each of the above steps.
VIDEOS COMING FOR EACH OF THE ABOVE STEPS FOR CONSTRUCTING AN ASPHALT PARKING LOT
Parking lot construction is an expensive process and project managers should be prepared for the range of investments they will have to make. We conducted a cost analysis on commercial parking lots (structures) and installation of just asphalt to help put these costs into perspective. Our results (shown below) indicate an average cost of $69 per square foot for a commercial parking lot and $3.85 per square foot just for paving asphalt. The just-asphalt value does not account for maintenance, striping, and/or the drainage requirements of the parking lot3, 4, 5, 6, 7.
In the USA, a parking space requires approximately 180 sq ft. So a parking lot like ours that needs to accommodate 500 vehicles will have asphalt installation costs around $346,500. The biggest factor affecting the cost is the amount of work required on the existing surface. See the resources section below for the links to the pages used to estimate this installation cost.
Industry average parking lot striping cost is around $10 per 100 sq ft8. So to paint a parking lot of 500 space capacity (90,000 sq ft), should cost no more than $9,000. This price accounts for labor, design, and paint.
A drainage system is also needed. This is to remove excess surface water from the parking lot, especially during severe rain that can seriously damage asphalt. French drains are a commonly used draining solution for parking lots and the cost ranges from $45 to $60 per linear foot9. Our parking lot plan consisting of just 2 rows of 250 parking spots each (placed across from each other) would require a 2500 linear feet and cost about $150,000.
The final aspect that was analyzed for parking lot costs was operation & maintenance. For simple parking lots like ours, the only O&M required are: strengthening of the asphalt structure, re-painting stripes, and clearing the drainage pipes. These costs were reported by the “National Real Estate Investor’” to be priced at an average of $0.15 per sq ft10. So our costs for 90,000 sq feet would be about $13,500.
Adding all of the above up, we get a total 500-space parking lot construction cost of $519,000.
The cost analysis up to this point is for simple parking lots that are most useful for projects like ours planned for rural/less populated areas. Completing a parking lot project in more urban areas will most likely be a “structure” rather than a “lot” and cost more due to increased land costs and additional needed features like gates, lighting, etc. Combining the data from 3 different sources11, 12, 13, the average national construction fees for these types of parking lots/structures were calculated at $69 per square foot. See cell D7 on the Parking and Roadways Google Spreadsheet.
For these “modern” styled parking facilities, there are additional costs that need to be accounted for such as land ownership, excavation, etc. Research shows these typically amount to about 17.5% of the construction fee11, this will increase the cost per square foot for the project to $81. So a 500-car capacity parking complex (using 1 space = 180 sq ft) would require a $7.29 million budget for construction.
Lastly, a study conducted in 1998 indicates annual maintenance costs range from $200 – $800 per space14. The lower end of the range is mainly for material maintenance e.g. crack sealing, whilst the higher end is for maintaining the additional parking lot features that can be complex, like toll booths, cleaning, repairs and insurance.
When selecting the construction site to build your parking lot, take the necessary time and effort to do it right. This decision can dramatically impact the cost, durability, effectiveness and even the safety of your parking lot during its lifespan. The factors you should consider when choosing a location are summarized below:
The complete design process for planning to construct a parking lot can be broken down into 6 key steps17:
There are a few parking lot construction best practices that should be followed. Here they are:
In this section we discuss the important factors that affect material selection for the parking lot construction. Similar to location, your material choice will affect the performance, longevity, and costs of operating the site. Here are some material considerations to keep in mind:
Here is a table comparing the most common options for parking lots and driveways. Chip seal is a good choice if you aren’t looking for a DIY project and won’t have heavy machinery traveling on it. If you are planning for low volume and want the easiest DIY option, gravel or decomposed granite are good options. For the longest lasting option that will withstand moderate to high volumes and last even when built in an area with rain and snow, we think asphalt is the most durable, affordable, and sustainable option.
To learn more about each of these, click the table below to visit our Sustainable Roadways, Walkways, and Landscaping page.
Because of its specialized use, most of the equipment needed for DIY parking lot construction will probably be rented. Here is the list of the most important machinery21:
When selecting human resources for the construction of a parking lot, you should consider: do they have the right skills/qualifications for the tasks and is their mental and physical health in a condition that will allow them to perform well. The following key workers will be required for a parking lot project:
Please note: Depending on the scope of your parking lot project, you may not require to fill all these roles or may need additional human resources
To ensure the safety of yourself and others whilst working, the following standards should be met at the construction site22:
When your parking lot is complete, it is a good idea to review the construction process and confirm all construction guidelines have been met. For the review, take account of all your costs, labor, equipment used, and projected performance for your parking lot’s lifespan. Compare all these to your initial estimations and plans to see if your objectives have been met and to what degree.
For testing the parking lot to be sure it is ready for use, evaluate the following:
Proper parking lot maintenance ensures your parking lot will last as long as possible and with optimal performance for all users. To insure this, your parking lot maintenance plan should include the following:
Once One Community starts building our own parking lot, we will share here our real data covering:
The purpose of a temporary parking lot is to serve as a short-term space for vehicles, construction equipment, materials and storage until a permanent parking lot is ready to be installed. The benefits of laying a temporary parking lot include easy installation, quick permitting, low costs and maintenance, and accessibility. Some important factors to consider when deciding which type of temporary parking lot is best suited for your project include: location, capacity, budget, and type of use. We discuss these temporary parking lot details and more with the following sections:
Note: When projects begin, some people think it’s a good idea to begin by first installing a parking lot. This isn’t always the best idea because of the wear and tear on it by driving and parking heavy trucks during construction. It is easier and often better to simply install a temporary parking lot that can serve as both a space to park commercial vehicles, trucks bringing in building materials, and materials themselves without worry about this wear and tear.
An important factor when constructing a temporary parking lot is its location. A project’s location will provide information about the area’s climate, terrain, code restrictions, and permits. More information regarding selecting the right project location can be found here: “ADD LINK/Tutorial”. Once a project’s location has been determined, obtaining the proper permits for the type of construction should be the first priority. Below we have listed the most common types of permits needed for approval before the installation of a temporary parking lot can take place.*
Along with the above permits, you may also be required to integrate reasonably available control measures (RACM) to prevent dust and dirt air-pollution emissions. These measures include (source):
*Please keep in mind that we have listed only common types of permits typically required. It is important to check with your city or state regarding what permits are needed).
Another important factor to keep in mind is the capacity required for the temporary parking lot. The capacity should also take into account how long one expects to have the lot. For this project we have determined that we will only need to have a maximum of 150 standard parking spots available over the course of 1-2 years.
Lastly, the budget is the deciding factor for most projects. Although temporary parking lots are relatively low in cost compared to other types of construction, it would be a mistake to ignore it when calculating total costs. After conducting an analysis on the required capacity and type of use, we have determined that a budget of around $95,000 (see below) would be sufficient for a 150 car parking lot over the span of 1-2 years.
It is important when doing any construction project big or small to have licensed professionals completing the job. In the case of a temporary parking lot you may need to hire or request certain services of people with knowledge or materials that you may not possess. To get a project like this done you would likely only need to hire a contractor who would assist you in making sure that your lot would have proper drainage. It may also be worthwhile to hire a civil engineer who could ensure that when it is time to install the permanent parking lot you won’t have to do additional preparation and can simply build on top of the temporary parking lot.
During our research, we identified five different temporary parking lot design options. Here is a brief explanation of each of them. Below is a table comparing these options:
Rollpark provides a permeable pavement design that essentially is “rolled out” onto the surface. It serves as a great temporary parking lot solution and requires little to no maintenance. They design, engineer, construct, and install the product. The product lifespan ranges from 5-7 years.
TRUEGRID® uses an interlocking grid-like surface with the structural integrity capable of withstanding commercial loads. The grid pockets are filled with gravel and can be laid on all soil types. They are a much better, yet more expensive alternative to the traditional gravel lot. The product is also eco-friendly, made of recycled materials and provides great drainage and infiltration within the site. On top of all that, TRUEGRID can be a DIY option and, if desired, can be used as a base for the installation of the future permanent parking lot. TRUEGRID’s product lifespan ranges from 25-60 years.
A gravel only lot is popular in many cases as it is the cheapest option and also the easiest to implement. However, unless compacted, loose gravel lots also do not meet ADA requirements. They also require constant maintenance.
Turf blocks are similar to TRUEGRID in that they are manufactured by a company then sent to the user. The difference is that the grid pieces are made of concrete and the open spaces are seeded or sowed with grass instead of gravel. This system requires the same maintenance as that of lawn/turf. In other words, it would need to be watered, mowed, weeded, etc. Due to the large gaps between each concrete piece, this option does not meet ADA standards and requirements. Turfblock can be installed without a contractor and has a lifespan of 10-15 years.
Grasspave2 is an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant and fire lane acceptable porous paving. It is put together as a grid interlocking pavement structure that is then filled or seeded with grass. It boasts five times the strength of concrete and has a void ratio of 92%, which provides excellent drainage along with adequate space (and protection) for root development. It is easy to install and boasts a lifespan of 50-60 years.
Here is a side-by-side comparison of all of the above:
Based on our research, we believe that TRUEGRID® is the best design option for this project. This decision is based on price, environmental friendliness, and the ability to install it ourselves. TRUEGRID gives a little of everything that the other options provide, along with a relatively simple installation process and excellent lifespan. It is low maintenance, decently weather viable, drainage efficient, and made from 100% post-consumer recycled material. It also can be used as a base so that our planned permanent asphalt parking lot expansion to 500 spaces can be built directly over it without the need for re-excavation.
The design of our proposed parking lot will consist of 501 parking spaces, 10 handicap accessible parking spaces, and 1 van accessible parking space. The lot is designed with two rows of parking spaces that flow in one direction. Additionally, the parking spaces are aligned in a diagonal format in the direction of travel and with a lane width of 12 feet. A fire access path, designed at a width of 20 feet, loops around the right side of the parking lot to adhere to safety protocols and provide visitors with more direct access to parking spots on the other end of the lot. A porous concrete walkway surface runs down the center of the parking lot to give pedestrians access to a safe walking path. Furthermore, bioswales are proposed on the west and east sides of the parking lot for water runoff collection and treatment purposes. Please view (and click to enlarge) the image to the right for the design of the finalized parking lot.
The parking lot will temporarily consist of TRUEGRID material filled with ¾” common gravel. A base rock layer must also be laid prior to the installation. Because of how TRUEGRID works, it won’t need to be re-excavated when the final design of the parking lot incorporates asphalt though, we just pave over it. The estimated costs for this initial parking lot is $190,00. Details are below.
When we are ready, we’ll pave over the TRUEGRID with 3″ of asphalt to create our permanent parking lot. The estimated costs of this are about $586,000, so the combined costs (spread over 4-5 years) of the temporary parking lot plus the permanent parking lot are estimated to be about $775,000.
If you decide to go with our recommended option you will need to follow these steps provided by TRUEGRID:
When we construct our temporary parking lot, we’ll add here videos discussing and teaching each of the above steps.
VIDEOS COMING FOR EACH OF THE ABOVE STEPS FOR CONSTRUCTING A TRUEGRID® TEMPORARY PARKING LOT
Workplace safety and security are the main priorities of any construction project. Nearly every construction site requires the set up of a temporary screening fence with a security lock to protect against unauthorized access and entry into the area. Depending on location, surrounding land use, and planned construction site security, a lockable chain link fence and lighting should be considered. Along with the construction fence, it is important to have proper signage surround the construction site perimeter as well. The signage around and inside the site will notify the public and/or construction workers that they are entering a construction zone. It will also identify all workplace safety hazards such as falls, holes, stairways, etc. Be sure to check with your city’s code and permitting department to determine if a construction fence is required.
Our research shows a simple parking lot constructed using asphalt and providing 500 spaces will cost approximately $500,000. This equates to $5.77 per square foot. For more complex parking structures with additional features such as a gated system, multiple levels, etc., you should start with a planned budget of about $81 per sq ft. Our initial temporary parking lot (for 150 cars) will cost approximately $95,000 and will reduce the total cost of part of our asphalt parking lot because we’ll be able to build it directly over the temporary parking lot. We’ll update these numbers with our own data as we construct our parking lot as part of the Highest Good Housing component.
Q: Is this guide complete?
No, we won’t consider this guide a complete and usable tutorial until we finish our own construction of this component, confirm all the details, and add to this page all the related videos, experience, and other updates from that build. In the meantime, we’re always happy to have the help of any qualified and experienced individuals with input that may make it better.
Q: Why do you consider asphalt the most sustainable choice?
Asphalt is a fossil-fuel based material and fossil fuels require a lot of energy to extract and cause significant environmental destruction. Unfortunately, chip seal roads and parking lots are also fossil-fuel based and gravel and decomposed granite also require a lot of energy to mine and cause significant environmental destruction too. What makes us recommend asphalt over these other options is its increased durability under heavy use and in extreme weather and the fact that it is 100% recyclable.25 This lifespan and the ability to tear it up and resurface your parking lot with the same materials it was originally constructed with make asphalt the least destructive and most sustainable option overall.
One Community will grow to a community of over 2000 permanent residents and hosting over 100,000 people annually. This includes an initial phase of development with 250 camp sites and plans for small festivals and other events open to the public. Through all of this we plan to remain a walk-in community, so all cars will be parked at the perimeter and necessary inner-community transportation will be handled by quieter, safer, and more sustainable electric vehicles.
Q: So nobody will be able to actually drive into One Community?
That is correct. People will park at the perimeter and be met by a hospitality guide in an electric vehicle. This guide will provide them a tour of the property, explanations of all the things to do and see, and transportation to their accommodations. From there movement around the property will be by walking, biking or, in the case of those who are mobility impaired, electric scooter or cart.