Parking lots are generally considered unattractive and unsustainable spaces. Our goal is to use these additional areas sensibly and make them not only visually appealing but also contribute to greater climate resilience. In the following article, you will learn how seecon Ingenieure’s clients enhance the attractiveness of their properties while improving their carbon footprint through easily implementable measures.

Heatwaves, heavy rainfall, floods, and droughts – all regions in Germany are affected by the consequences of climate change, with cities often experiencing the most significant impacts. Many cities are densely built, resulting in high levels of surface sealing. As a result, cities and municipalities increasingly struggle with hot summers, heavy rainfall, and flooding due to climate change. In some areas, the sewage systems become overwhelmed.

When studying parking lots from this perspective, it becomes clear that these negative phenomena are particularly concentrated as their size increases. The high level of surface sealing leads to increased surface runoff. These areas heat up significantly, are prone to dust development, and are generally unsuitable for social activities.

One possible solution-oriented approach is the concept of a “sponge city.” The idea behind a “sponge city” is to create areas where large amounts of water can be locally absorbed and released, with a time delay. The goal is to capture rainwater as close to the source as possible and return it to the water cycle at that exact location. When rainwater is held where it falls, it can also evaporate there. This can be achieved through parks, green roofs, or facades – collectively referred to as green infrastructures. However, blue infrastructures – such as ponds, lakes, canals, and various types of retention areas – are also essential. These can include large meadows where water can collect after heavy rainfall, as well as rain retention basins, infiltration trenches, and cisterns. Small to large underground water storage systems can store rainwater for dry periods, and in dry regions, they often serve as drinking water reservoirs.

Local water retention also allows for the increased planting of trees and plants. Urban greenery enhances the attractiveness of our cities and improves the quality of life for their residents. Trees not only beautify the often-grey streets of cities and serve as an aesthetic element of urban planning, but also have ecological functions with a significant impact on the urban climate. They provide shade, supply oxygen, act as air conditioning, filter air, reduce noise, and nurture habitat.

Specifically in the summer, we can appreciate the various functions of urban trees. Their leaves provide cooling through the evaporation effect, offer shade, filtering dust and harmful nitrogen oxides from the surrounding air. Where there are trees, the air is fresher and less polluted, benefiting our health. But other creatures also benefit from the presence of trees. Birds, squirrels, bats, and insects find a home here. Old trees, in particular, are true biotopes.

Many of the tree species used in urban areas are already insufficiently adapted to climate change , which is accompanied by increasing drought , higher radiation intensity , and altered precipitation patterns. However , the goal of diversity can only be achieved if a suitable tree species is planted at each location. Urban trees thrive despite the challenging conditions in cities. CO2 , fine dust , heat radiation , construction work, salt de-icing , roadwork, dust , and air pollutants stress the trees. Deicing salt, car tires, and construction work damage the root system , dust and air pollutants affect the leaves; drought and asphalt-related heat radiation have always been urban problems , with higher temperatures than in the surrounding areas. On the other hand , urban trees must withstand heavy rainfall , resist strong storms in urban canyons , and defend against invasive pests.

According to climate researchers , extreme weather events will increase in the future , making it even more important to act now to improve the quality of life for urban residents through climate adaptation measures. Such a path does not always have to consist of a comprehensive overall concept – what is more important is to start today, in small steps. Change can also come from many small , individualized measures; small areas that gradually grow together.

One of the small areas that allow the concept of collected knowledge to be implemented in an understandable and initially cost-effective way, are the many parking spaces. In essence , this can then create a significant impact in the fight against the effects of climate change in cities.

For the climate parking lot , this means regularly intersecting parking spaces with trees and greenery. The shade-providing greenery helps avoid heat islands. The trees can be placed in retention areas , which are rainwater collection basins , and the parking spaces can be equipped with permeable , preferably light-colored paving. This way , the collected rainwater would be stored and used for tree watering. The underground installation of storage bodies ensures temporary storage of precipitation. In heavy rain , the urban sewer system can also be relieved.

In the discussion about climate protection measures , a more efficient use of energy is seen as a crucial factor in achieving global climate goals. This includes reducing energy consumption , more efficient energy conversion processes , and increased use of renewable energies. The goal is to reduce CO2 emissions and other greenhouse gases to limit their long-term concentration in the atmosphere.

We can assume that individual road mobility will continue to play a central role in the lives of most people , especially outside metropolitan areas , in the foreseeable future. Therefore , the electrification of private vehicles – coupled with the expansion of an effective and efficient charging network – can unlock the potential for decarbonization through the electrification of cars. Accordingly , the climate parking lot also means considering these areas as integrated , sustainable mobility hubs and using them for car-sharing , modal connections with public transport (e.g. , Park & Ride) , and bicycle-pedestrian mobility networks. Similarly , the potential installation of photovoltaic panels on protective roofs for bicycle stands , can generate electricity on-site. The collected photovoltaic energy can also serve as a reserve for nighttime lighting.

Therefore , the climate parking lot is a concept that follows a climate adaptation strategy in urban areas and integrates it through design elements that help reduce CO2. It is far from ineffective , but rather , an intelligent combination of possibilities and potentials for sustainable mobility in the near future.