There has been increasing emphasis in recent years on minimising environmental impact with business operations. Many car park operators are considering ways in which they can turn their business greener. Our handy guide helps you out with this, offering 5 smart, eco-friendly ways to save money with your car park.
1. Implement Automated Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology
Automated Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology is already being used in many car parks. These innovative systems can bring plentiful benefits to your car park. ANPR uses cameras to identify vehicle number plates of cars entering and leaving the car park. The cameras utilise high-tech algorithms to scan and decipher each car number plate. When the camera detects a number plate, the image is recorded and stored. Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is then used to decode the registration and this is stored alongside the date and time that the image was taken. By recording the entrance and exit time of each car, the ANPR system can determine the length of that vehicle’s stay in the car park.
ANPR is very efficient at identifying cars that have overstayed in your car park and it can be in place 24 hours a day. As well as helping to pinpoint unauthorised vehicles, it can also offer additional security since the car park is being constantly monitored.
Introducing ANPR can save you money by deterring drivers from leaving their vehicles in your car park for longer than they have paid for. But it also opens up an opportunity for you to implement dynamic pricing for parking. Data collected by the ANPR system can be used to vary car park charges depending on demand. This allows you to optimise use of space within your car park and increase revenue. For more information on the benefits of ANPR, check out our blog “The untapped value within ANPR solutions”, or if you would like to find out more about dynamic pricing for parking, have a read of “The benefits of dynamic pricing for parking”.
But, you may be wondering how can ANPR also help the environment. ANPR improves the customer experience by ensuring that spaces are utilised in the most efficient way. By creating a barrier free parking solution, ANPR means that customers can drive straight in and out of the car park without having to queue at a barrier. This reduces congestion and as a result lowers pollution from cars. This can be particularly effective if your car park currently tends to have a parking back log at peak times, such as the 5pm evening dash.
To make your car park even greener, you could consider installing a solar powered payment kiosk. These complement ANPR technology without incurring any additional energy consumption.
2. Introduce a virtual permit system
Once you have ANPR technology in place, you can then easily introduce a virtual permit system. As ANPR detects all the vehicles that enter and leave the car park, it creates a log of the number plates of all vehicles that use your car park. This means that there is no longer any need for physical tickets to be issued. Completing removing the need for paper tickets means that there is no energy or money spend on providing the paper or ink to print them, there is no litter that needs to be collected from discarded tickets, and there are no queues are people wait in their car to get a ticket at the barrier.
Instead drivers are issued with a virtual permit via their number plate. You have the freedom with this type of system to introduce different charges for different groups of customers. For example, employees or regular visitors may be charged less for parking than occasional visitors. You could even develop a loyalty scheme for repeat customers. This could increase revenue as an incentive for repeat visits could entice regular drivers in the area to choose your car park over any other.
Not having to buy a paper ticket can make the parking experience more convenient for drivers too. Customers can register their vehicle registration number and payment details. The system can then seamlessly charge them automatically based on the times they enter and exit the car park. Ticketless parking saves time and means the drivers no longer need to worry about having the right change or potentially losing their ticket. If you would like to read more about cashless parking solutions, take a glance at our blog “Why every car park should offer a cashless payment option”.
3. Invest in renewable energy sources
Investing in renewable energy sources can really help to add to your car park’s green credentials. Consider how your car park is currently powered and think about whether there would be any alternative methods that may work just as well. For example, if you have a manned parking kiosk, could this be powered by wind or solar energy? Moves to renewable energy can seem costly in the initial stages but once in place, they can ensure that you make savings in the long term. You can also have peace of mind that you’re helping the planet out too.
It is also worth thinking about how your business sources goods and services. Can you be sure that these are produced in a sustainable way? Are items non-toxic, recyclable or made from renewable materials, wherever possible? A new greener approach to procurement could include considerations such as reducing waste, lowering greenhouse gas emissions, conserving energy and water, and using renewable energy sources.
4. Illuminate with LED lights
If you have an indoor parking facility, then it is essential to make sure that it is well lit for your customer’s safety and quality of parking experience. However, you could think about switching your current lighting for compact fluorescent or LED lights. These both last longer and use much less energy than traditional lighting. These types of lights can replace standard bulbs in most fittings. Although they may have a higher purchase price than standard incandescent bulbs initially, they will provide your car park with a purer source of light, are more eco-friendly and can save you a lot of money in the longer term.
Another environmentally friendly solution is to consider installing solar powered sensor lights. This is a method that is quite commonly used in car parks already and it is particularly effective. It uses natural resources and, due to the use of sensors, the lights are only used when necessary. Even if you are not able to install solar powered sensor lights, you could still consider installing some sort of sensor so that the lights in your car park are only activated when there is someone there. This would not only reduce energy usage but would also save you £££ on your electricity bill.
Where possible, ensure that the design of your car park allows natural light to be used during the daytime. Bright, airy spaces don’t need any energy to illuminate them during the day and they have the added benefit of being much more inviting to customers than dark car parks with unreliable lighting.
5. Increase ways to reduce energy use
Even small changes can have a big impact. Encouraging staff and customers to make sure that they always switch off lights when they are not needed and to save water by ensuring that taps are not left running needlessly. Have recycling bins available for card, paper, glass, cans and other recyclable materials, so that your business can contribute to reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill sites.
Always keep thinking about how you can introduce ways to reduce energy usage at your business. For example, you could evaluate whether lighting can be reduced in your car park. Optimising usage can help the environment, as well as your bank balance.
Car park ventilation systems can also be run more efficiently by running fans at a lower speed or even switching them off altogether when the car park is not in high demand. However, you must ensure that CO2 limits continue to be met.
As an example of a success story, Dublin Airport recently announced that they have managed to achieve an 80% saving in car park energy consumption. This is due to upgrading their lighting and control systems. They have installed new energy efficient LED streetlight fittings which can be controlled individually, allowing the lighting output to be suited to the operational need at any point in time. The system allows operators to control the lighting remotely, therefore reducing the power input to lighting.
This brief guide has hopefully inspired you with our 5 handy ideas to get you started on your journey towards making your car park more sustainable and eco-friendly, as well as helping to keep your bank balance looking healthy and saving you money.