Duke earns nation’s first LEED rating for free-standing garage

Duke's first "green" garage has received a LEED Certified status.
November 22, 2010Duke has received a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certified status from the U.S. Green Building Council for its new parking garage on Research Drive.

The designation marks the first recognition of its kind for a free-standing garage, said Dudley Willis, Facilities Management project manager who oversaw construction of the garage. Duke’s Sands garage features “green” design elements, including two 10,000 gallon cisterns that collect rainwater for landscaping, overhead canopies that use plants to provide shade on the roof and low-power LED lights.

“It’s truly one of a kind,” Willis said. “We’ve even gotten universities expressing interest in how we did it and gave tours to facility managers from the City of Raleigh, the Raleigh-Durham International Airport, University of Mississippi and Virginia Tech.”

The garage is Duke’s 19th project that has received a minimum of “Certified” status and is among more than 4 million-square feet of space at Duke that either carries a LEED rating or is in the process of being rated. Since 2003, all new construction at Duke has been required to work toward receiving a certified status, at a minimum. The goal also plays into the university’s Climate Action Plan to become carbon neutral by 2024.

Construction of the garage by the corner of Research Drive and Erwin Road began in June 2008 and opened in January 2009. The garage features more than 1,900 total spaces, including 1,647 for employees and 267 for patients and visitors. Willis said that Duke hopes to install charging stations for hybrid-electric cars in the future.

Willis added that because the U.S. Green Building Council recently changed the way it determines LEED ratings, there’s a very good chance that no other free-standing garages will be able to obtain a certified status.

What makes Duke’s garage unique is that as a “free-standing” garage, it’s solely used for parking. Other garages have been certified, but are all attached to other buildings or part of mixed-use buildings, where a majority of LEED-related construction can take place. Other garages feature offices or cafes as part of their building.

Duke is also submitting the garage for the International Parking Institute’s Award of Excellence, which is given to outstanding and innovative parking facilities and programs. Winners of the award will be announced in November 2011.

“While we are working hard to encourage alternative transportation here at Duke, we recognize there is still a need for campus parking spots,” said Tavey McDaniel Capps, Duke’s environmental sustainability director. “If we had to build a parking garage, we wanted to be sure it was the greenest in the country.”