If all goes as planned, the University of Florida’s new $20 million Southwest Parking Garage Complex in Gainesville will soon become the first parking facility in the country to earn LEED Platinum status.
Designed by the Boca Raton office of PGAL  to meet criteria for the highest LEED certification category, the garage complex includes a six-level, 313,000-sf parking garage (927 spaces) and an attached, 10,000-sf, two-story transportation and parking services office building.
Green features include:
* Density. The parking garage complex occupies the footprint of a previous 300-space surface parking lot. It will provide more than three times more parking spaces than the surface lot (plus office facilities), while having no negative impact on existing campus open space. Indeed, it reduces the need for additional surface parking lots which are traditional groundwater polluters.
* Alternative transportation access and support. Complex includes covered, secure storage for bicycles and mopeds as well as changing rooms and showers for the convenience of persons who park in the garage and then walk or bicycle/moped around campus. Complex also has convenient access to the local bus transit system and parking spaces for carpool vehicles as well as space and plug-in facilities for fuel-efficient vehicles.
* Reduction of heat island effect. A variety of materials and treatments are used to minimize heat generated from sunlight on surfaces. These include: Pervious concrete pavers; maximum use of grass as ground cover; reflective pigments in roof surfaces and extensive use of high-shade trees.
* Water-efficient landscaping. Groundscapes will maximize use of drought-tolerant native grasses and plant materials (e.g., turf grass instead of sod). Temporary irrigations zones will be used initially but once the materials are established, there will be no mechanical irrigation, reducing water consumption by approximately 70%. Non-potable water will be used for landscaping irrigation.
* Wetland protection. A dedicated landscape buffer will protect an adjacent wetland area, providing natural filtration of runoff from the complex. During construction, a temporary screen was constructed to protect the wetlands from construction-related pollutants.
* Energy-efficient lighting systems and light pollution reduction. Solar photo cells with back-up timers will reduce inside and outside energy use throughout the complex, as will motion sensors in indoor spaces which will turn off lights when space is unoccupied. All lighting fixtures are non-mercury types. Lighting shields will be used to prevent light spillage from the garage onto adjacent areas.
* Insulated window glazing system. Windows are insulated to reduce heat penetration but are clear (not tinted) to permit high transmission of natural light and visibility.
* Recycling and construction waste management. Recycling bins will be strategically placed for use by office and parking structure users. Construction waste is being recorded and sorted in accordance with LEED criteria.
* Construction materials, finishes and furnishings. All materials meet or exceed LEED criteria. They are regionally-obtained and recyclable. For example, benches in public spaces, interior and exterior, are of recycled materials. Woods for doors, furniture and cabinetry meet composite wood standards; paints, coatings, adhesives, sealants and carpet systems are low-emitting.
* Efficient HVAC and clean air systems. There will be natural fresh air ventilation in the garage and an indoor air monitoring system for the office structure. The energy-efficient HVAC system provides pre-set thermal comfort in public areas as well as controllable thermostats in individual offices. Smoking will not be permitted in the office building or the parking garage.
* Daylighting and views. 90% of offices have views and a minimum of 75% will have daylight.
* Stormwater management. The complex complies with the University’s Master Plan and LEED guidelines for stormwater management, including runoff collection and storage.
* Fundamental and enhanced LEED criteria monitoring. An on-site commissioning agent is monitoring the project to ensure that it meets all energy performance requirements for LEED certification.
* Green education. To increase user and visitor awareness of LEED values, monitors will be positioned in public areas of the office building, such as the customer service lobby, which will broadcast videos explaining how the complex was built to meet LEED standards.
The new facility is part of the University of Florida’s pioneering “green” Master Plan. In 2001, with LEED in its infancy, the university adopted LEED criteria for design and construction of all major new and renovation projects. The university’s newly expanded Heavener Football Complex is the nation’s first LEED Platinum athletic facility. The campus also has two LEED Gold certified buildings (the first LEED Gold in Florida) and recently mandated that all new/renovated facilities meet minimum LEED Gold standards.
By contract, the garage complex was only mandated to achieve a LEED Silver rating. The team wanted to do better.
“Beyond being environmentally sound, projects with high sustainability goals like this one inspire all team members to be extremely proactive and creative about finding the most efficient solutions for all aspects of project,” says Bahar Armaghani, Assistant Director, UF Facilities Planning, who works with project teams to reach highest possible LEED certification levels.
“For example, PGAL had to find a way to stay within the footprint of an existing 300-space surface lot while tripling parking spaces and including significant office space but without creating a curbside massing effect along a street with heavy pedestrian traffic. It also had to provide office views and daylighting despite the site being bordered on two sides by a power plant and a water treatment plant.
“The project team also had to overcome severe, unanticipated site problems—large, underground sinkholes—plus protect adjacent wetlands, minimize construction impact on a neighboring UF research center and relocate existing power lines to ensure the safety of construction workers….all while keeping the project on budget and on schedule,” she adds.
University Project Manager Fred Rowe notes that “We used the design/build delivery method but with an interesting twist: A fast-track construction program which included multiple GMP system (GMP1 early, GMP 2, superstructure) that expedited the construction process and helped us meet our deadlines despite the serious site problems.”
PGAL Principal Ian Nestler says the challenge of coupling high density with a pedestrian-friendly curbsite presence “was achieved by designing a triangular structure and positioning it at an angle to the site, with the office portion facing the street and the garage structure behind it. The two-story office component which is applied on the face of the garage features visually-appealing elements such as an angled two-story cement-faced atrium placed against 6-story contrasting brick-faced elevator/stairway tower. Such elements distract the eye from the garage, giving the office components maximum presence streetside. In fact, as construction neared completion, many passersby commented that they didn’t realize the new building included a parking garage.”
Adds Rob Maphis, Vice President/Branch Manager for general contractor James A. Cummings : “We believe a new industry standard was set for speed of installation of precast concrete (27-28 members per day versus traditional 16 to 18). This was accomplished by precise staging and loading, despite only one truck being allowed on site at a time. Manpower, such as welders, was also precisely staged to insure efficiency and safety.”
PGAL  — Architecture, engineering, and program management
Walter P Moore  — Structural engineering
TLC  — MEP engineering
James A. Cummings Inc.  — Construction management
Harris Engineers  — Civil engineering