New 2011 Edition of “NFPA 88A: Standard for Parking Structures” Released – Includes New Chapter for Automated Parking Garages

The NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) has released the new 2011 Edition of “NFPA 88A: Standard for Parking Structures” which includes for the first time automated parking structures. The new edition is expected to ship on July 2, 2010.

The new NFPA 88A codes ensure parking garages are fire-safe and provide requirements concerning the construction and protection of open and enclosed parking structures, as well as the control of hazards.

Reorganized for consistency with NFPA 101® and NFPA 5000®, the new edition includes:

• A new chapter on Special Structures including first-time definitions and requirements for the new genre of parking structures termed “Automated Mechanical Type Parking Structures”
• Updated definitions based on current industry best practices

Mr. Gerhard Haag, working with members of the Automated and Mechanical Parking Association and Mr. Don Monahan representing the National Parking Association, was instrumental in getting the needs of the automated parking industry recognized in this key international code. Mr. Haag is the CEO of Robotic Parking Systems and a member of the NFPA Garage and Parking Structures Committee. Mr. Monahan is a Vice President of Walker Parking Consultants, Inc.

Click here to order a copy of the 2011 Edition of NFPA 88A.


Preserving Threatened Historic Districts

The Old City of Damascus became a development target as the Syrian economy began to open up in the 1990s. While the area is now a popular tourist destination, its historic architecture remains threatened. In 2002 and again in 2008, the World Monuments Fund put Old Damascus on its Watch List of heritage sites “threatened by neglect, demolition, or disaster.” In some cases, old buildings were razed to make way for newly constructed establishments. Others involved the hasty restoration and conversion of historic courtyard houses. With a lack of technical expertise, cheap concrete has replaced stone and mud brick. 

The Aga Khan Development Network, the organization that promotes the preservation of Islamic heritage, is hoping to demonstrate a new development model for the area. The group is in the midst of slowly and judiciously restoring three of the Old City’s most splendid late-Ottoman houses. All three will reopen collectively as a luxury hotel.

The dwellings date to the mid-18th to late 19th centuries and once housed affluent merchant families and, in later years, the first European consuls to Damascus. They are mansions really, with sprawling courtyards, ornate receiving rooms, and the traditional, environmentally adaptive layout of traditional Damascene architecture. The high, open alcove, or liwan, off the courtyard stays shady throughout hot summer days, while interior and upstairs rooms receive sunlight through the winter, warming the mud brick and stone walls.

Begun in 2008, the AKDN project is slated to be finished in 2012. Galleries, cafés, and “showrooms” to Damascene architecture will fill the traditional greeting rooms on the ground floors of the two-story houses. Unlike some conversions that use concrete, the AKDN’s hotel will feature traditional building materials installed by skilled craftsmen.

Parking for businesses and tourists in historic districts is a major challenge for architects and developers. No one wants to see an ugly concrete parking structure that is totally out of character for the area. This is where Robotic Parking Systems can help. An automated parking structure can store twice as many cars in half the space so the footprint required for the parking facility can be much smaller. Additionally, the facade can be completely customized to fit the architecture of the area.

Via: Architectural Record

Greener Urban Areas – Eco-Boulevards

Each year the jury of the The Buckminster Fuller Challenge awards $100,000 in prize money to honor and encourage further development of the winner’s work. Finalists provide a workable solution to one of the world’s most significant challenges such as water scarcity, food supply, or energy consumption.

One of this year’s finalists was Eco-Boulevards from Sarah Dunn and Martin Felsen of UrbanLab, a research-based architecture and urban design practice. (

Chicago discards over one billion gallons of Great Lakes water per day. This “wastewater” never replenishes one of the world’s most vital resources.

The Eco-Boulevard concept transforms existing roadways, sidewalks and parks, which comprise more than a third of the land in a city such as Chicago, into a passive bio-system for filtering / recycling water, promoting walking / biking, and fostering green-jobs. Treated water is then returned to the Great Lakes, closing Chicago’s water loop.

All urban areas can benefit from more green spaces, safe places for walking / biking and common areas in which people can interact. Just imagine taking half of the space used by downtown parking and turning this into parks, walking paths or other open areas for people. Think it can’t be done? Automated, robotic parking garages can reduce the space needed for parking by 50%. This creates space for greener cities and systems such as Eco-Boulevards while still reducing the traffic congestion and pollution of people driving around looking for parking places.

Oil from Spill Could Have Powered 105,000 Cars for a Year

As of today (Thursday, June 17th), if all the oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico had been used for fuel, it could have powered 105,000 cars and 8,800 trucks for a full year plus 146 container ship days, according to University of Delaware Prof. James J. Corbett. That’s based on scientists’ recently updated (June 15th) average estimated spill rate of 50,000 barrels of oil per day.

Corbett, a professor of marine policy in UD’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, works on energy and environmental solutions for transportation. He launched a website that reports the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in terms of lost uses of the lost fuel on a daily basis. (

Here are just a few of Corbett’s findings:

* By May 5 (15 days after the spill), the oil lost could have fueled 470 container ships serving New York and New Jersey ports for a year.
* By May 31 (41 days after the spill), the lost energy could have fueled one freight truck on 17 trips across all 4 million miles of U.S. highway.

Corbett says he developed the website to help put the oil spill in a perspective to which everyday users of petroleum, including most Americans, can relate.

This oil spill is of particular interest to Robotic Parking Systems for numerous reasons. One reason is that our 100,000 square foot manufacturing facility and corporate offices are located on the Gulf coast of Florida in the Clearwater – Tampa Bay area. We’re fortunate so far that the spill is still quite some distance away from us, and our shores have not yet been directly impacted.

Additionally, Robotic Parking Systems has always worked to contribute to the green building efforts of architects and developers to create greener and more livable cities.  By parking twice as many cars in half the space, our automated parking garages helps builders achieve additional green space or use the space created to provide other benefits for their projects or the community. This robotic technology significantly reduces gas consumption, carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases.

More economical uses of petroleum and other energy resources will reduce the need for future deep water oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

Architects and developers create space with Robotic Parking Systems

Robotic Parking Systems works with architects and developers around the world to design automated parking garages for a wide range of project ideas, from retail to hospitals to financial centers to mixed-use developments.

In many cases space is at a premium, and the project can’t go forward unless the architect can somehow “create space” to get the parking density needed. The solution – compact, robotic parking garages.

It comes down to available “footprint”. And, it’s the job of the Robotic Parking Systems’ design department to come up with parking solutions that fit within the available space.

Minimizing the impact of parking creates more space for design and development that can be used for green space, common areas for the community or other uses that benefit the project as a whole. Not only can Robotic Parking Systems park twice as many cars in half the space as compared to conventional garages, but these car parks offer more security, less emissions and greater convenience for users.

As an example, look at a preliminary automated parking design for a hotel property planned for a very limited site. In a “footprint” of only 100 feet by 230 feet we were able to offer 1,500 parking spaces. The required throughput of 440 cars per hour is achieved with eleven entry / exit bays. To stay within a height limit of 100 feet, the garage is designed with 12 levels above grade and four levels below grade.

Click here to see the design.

Robotic Parking Systems can help urban areas with both parking and pedestrian-friendly spaces.

In his column in Next Americn City, Yonah Freemark writes about the dynamics of downtown pedestrian malls and the various and diverse reasons for their successes and failures.

Mr. Freemark states “Even as New York City makes big news for transforming parts of 34th Street into a pedestrian mall, Sacramento is pulling back from the concept. Four decades after first closing a section of downtown’s K Street to automobile traffic, the leaders of California’s capital have had enough. They want the cars back to bring new vitality to the city’s streets to save businesses threatened by extinction due to a lack of traffic.”

Attracting people to a pedestrian-friendly urban area usually means attracting their cars. This is where Robotic Parking Systems can mitigate these contrary factors.

Because the Robotic Parking Systems garage is half the size of a comparable concrete structure there are more opportunities to centralize parking and locate it close to urban centers. The space created by this compact parking structure can be used by architects and developers for green space, pedestrian areas or other features to improve the community. Additionally, the facade of the garage can be customized to fit the architectural style of any urban neighborhood.

Always a concern in downtown areas, safety is a key benefit of automated parking garages such as Robotic Parking Systems. People don’t have to wander around dark, deserted garages. Cars are dropped off and picked up at well lighted, ground level bays.

The speed of the Robotic Parking System allows it to rapidly absorb the flow of traffic and, because people are not circling the streets searching for parking, the automated parking garage by itself reduces vehicle traffic.

Automated parking is the perfect solution for those cities that want to attract drivers to their downtown areas plus provide pedestrian-friendly spaces.

Robotic Parking Systems Can Improve Urban Landscapes

A recent article in the Winnepeg Free Press stated that “parking lots are asphalt deserts that create pedestrian dead zones” and are a “blot on downtown landscape.”

Winnipeg is reported to have some of the largest urban parking lots in Canada. Downtown residential population is low and the usage of public transit has declined which results in a high demand for parking for daily commuters

Developers are arguing that the redevelopment of adjacent sites can not happen successfully without the drive-up convenience of adjoining surface parking.

However, a clean, safe, walkable and interesting urban experience attracts people. Increased density and improved urban quality is a catalyst for residential growth. This in turn improves the perception of safety and provides support for new amenities and commercial activity. Downtown surface parking lots dilute all of these desirable characteristics.

The car is not the enemy, nor is the elimination of cars the solution. Successful cities manage their parking requirements with centralized parking structures that provide safety and convenience while maintaining a cohesive urban form.

Automated parking garages provide the type of centralized parking structures that improve urban landscapes. A Robotic Parking System that parks twice as many cars in half the space:

  • gives architects and developers more freedom to design and create greener and more livable communities without the need for sprawling parking lots.
  • provides safe, convenient parking that gets cars off the road and creates space that could be used for pedestrians and bicycles.
  • offers the convenience of valet parking without the valet.
  • generates less pollution and greenhouse gases.
  • provides complete flexibility in the design of the facade which can increase aesthetics and allow the garage to blend with any neighborhood or project.

Robotic Parking Systems offers solutions for urban environments that create more green space, less parking space and remove the blot on downtown landscapes.

via Winnepeg Free Press