By Vince Little, The BayonetJune 27, 2012
FORT BENNING, Ga. -- Fort Benning is preparing an official policy memorandum for the "preferred parking" spaces around McGinnis-Wickam Hall on Main Post and Sand Hill's Reception Station Barracks.
Officials said the measure is aimed at promoting good environmental stewardship by reducing traffic, congestion and carbon dioxide emissions around post. It'll reward motorists and personnel who drive low-emitting and high-efficiency vehicles or ride in car and vanpools by offering up the best spots -- those closest to the main entrances of both buildings. Handicap-designated spaces remain exempt.
Directorate of Public Works Energy Manager Mark Fincher said the policy will be finalized for the garrison commander's review by Tuesday. It's slated to take effect Aug. 14.
"We are trying to improve the parking situation on post while also reducing our carbon footprint," said Tannis Danley, Fort Benning's air program manager. "Getting through the gates in a timely manner and having a place to park are things that matter. This is an effort to improve the standard of living here.
"Maybe this will help encourage carpooling, too. There is a financial incentive for people to do that every day."
The Maneuver Center of Excellence headquarters at Building 4 and the Reception Station Barracks are the only two structures certified as gold or silver under Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards, Fincher said. All other new facilities across the installation are certifiable.
Outside several buildings are signs reserved for a "Low Emitting Fuel Efficient Vehicle." Officials said registration could begin early next month to obtain decals designating such vehicles, while a car or vanpool would qualify for a mirror card if personnel engage in the practice an average of three times a week.
The U.S. Green Building Council developed the LEED metric rating system. Buildings get points for meeting criteria in renewable energy, number of solar panels and other efficiencies. It also covers parking procedures for building occupants and visitors.
In order to reach the gold standard at McGinnis-Wickam Hall, Fort Benning officials marked 5 percent of the building's total vehicle capacity as "preferred parking" for low-emitting and fuel-efficient vehicles, said Peter Lukken, the garrison's strategic sustainability planner. For the purposes of this credit, low-emitting and fuel-efficient vehicles are classified as zero emission vehicles by the California Air Resources Board or those having achieved a minimum "green" score of 40 on the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy's annual vehicle rating guide.
"People are going to see some empty spaces in the marked spots at first," Lukken said. "But hopefully, this gets people thinking about a low-emitting, fuel-efficient vehicle with their next purchase, or gets them involved in carpooling and vanpooling. It's something everybody should consider because it reduces congestion at the gates and decreases the number of vehicles on Fort Benning."
After the "preferred parking" policy becomes effective Aug. 14, Fort Benning police will issue citations to drivers illegally parked in the designated spaces without a decal or mirror card, said Joseph LaBranche, operations officer for the Directorate of Emergency Services. He urged commanders and facility managers to take heed of violators before that happens.
"They should be reinforcing the parking space usage," he said. "We've got to get commanders to buy in and enforce the policies."
Do you qualify for a decal or mirror card?
Go to www.greenercars.org/news.htm and click on the "LEED MY 2000-2012 Low Emissions Vehicle" link to see if your vehicle has a "green" score of 40 on the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy's annual vehicle rating guide. You can download an Excel spreadsheet with the vehicles that qualify.
Cash for Commuters
*Cash for Commuters, also known as "$3 a day," is a special incentive program designed to motivate solo drivers employed in Georgia or those commuting from Alabama to try a clean commute alternative, such as carpooling, vanpooling, bicycling or walking to work. Applications for the program must be submitted before you start using a clean commute mode, so The Clean Air Campaign -- a nonprofit organization in Georgia -- knows this program was the reason you switched.
*There also are carpool rewards. If your carpool has more than two members who ride together at least 15 days a month, your group may be eligible for carpool rewards from The Clean Air Campaign. Three-member carpools can earn $40 a month in gas cards, while carpools of six or more can earn up to $60 in monthly gas cards.
*For more information, call 706-545-4487, visit the Fort Benning Facebook page or go to www.benning.army.mil/garrison/MassTransit.