Concrete and painted lines is so 1999. Parking garages could be taken to a new level with more electric vehicle charging stations and better energy efficiency, space utilization and completely automated systems. Put it all together and it shows that parking should be getting more respect, says Paul Wessel, executive director of Green Parking Council, telling The New York Times, "The parking industry has had something of a Rodney Dangerfield complex, but that's changing now."

Green Parking Council hosted an "innovation salon" in mid-September at BMW i Ventures' office in Lower Manhattan. Garages haven't changed very much in recent decades, but the need for more EV charging stations in garages has prompted rethinking what can be done, Wessel said. New technologies at parking garages could include energy-efficient lighting capable of dimming when customers are gone, solar panels and apps directing drivers to open spots. Automated parking would cut emissions and squeeze cars into tight spaces. As an example of what's possible, Council board chairman John Schmid pointed to his company's Propark America's prototype green parking Canopy facility at Denver International Airport. BMW Group's DesignWorks USA and Green Parking Council worked with Propark on setting up the Canopy garage with LED lightighing, EV charging and alternative energy applications, including geothermal.

Automation Parking Systems also put in a word for revolutionizing parking where robotic parking pallets do all the work. Through stacking, these garages need a lot less space than conventional garages do to store the same number of cars. They also helpf cut down operating costs and reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. As seen in the photo above, Automation Parking Systems has been at it a few years, including installing an automated facility in New York City in 2007.

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