Add one more name to the ever-growing list of green building-related certification programs. Yesterday, the Green Parking Council (GPC), an affiliate of the International Parking Institute, launched its Green Garage Certification program, targeting parking structure design, management, and technology. "Green Garage Certification provides both a roadmap and assessment tool for real estate owners, developers, planners, architects, tenants, parking operators, and others to strive toward a more environmentally and economically sustainable future," GPC executive director Paul Wessel said in a release on the launch of the program, which the group says is the equivalent of LEED certification. (Parking garages are no longer eligible for LEED certification per a May 9, 2011 interpretation ruling.)

The program is designed for both new and existing parking garages (but does not currently address parking lots), and includes both multistory, stand-alone garages as well as mixed-use structures with a minimum of one supported level above or below grade. It examines projects in three categories that comprise 12 or more criteria each: management (with criteria such as parking pricing, shared parking, proactive operational maintenance, and use of regional materials); programs (with criteria such as access to mass transit, low-emitting and fuel-efficient vehicle programs, and bicycle parking); and technology and structure design (with criteria such as low- or no-VOC coatings, paints and sealants, energy-efficiency lighting systems, and rainwater harvesting systems). A fourth category recognizes innovation. In total, there are 48 different strategies that are recognized under the system, which weights the strategies differently in terms of total number of points available, and projects attempting certification must achieve a minimum of 20 points in each category (with the exception of the innovation category). Certification is judged on a 248 point scale, with 110-134 points meriting bronze certification, 135-159 points earning silver certification, and 160 points or more receiving gold certification.  Click here for a breakdown of each category's criteria along with the points available for each criteria. Once awarded, certification is valid for three years.

The certification process is broken into several stages. The formal process begins when a project is registered and a $250 fee is paid. Site teams then have two years to complete their submission. During this time, participants are encouraged to work with a trained Green Garage Certification assessor. After a participant sends in a site submission package for review, which includes a $6,500 submission payment, the information undergoes independent, third-party review to determine whether certification will be awarded. A recommendation for certification will be issued within 90 days of submission, and if no appeals or changes are initiated, the GPC will award an official score to the project, order a plaque, and provide the project team with a media kit of materials for their use.

So far, 40 projects in the US and Canada have participated in a beta version of the certification program. Click here to download the certification program guide.