Fast Park & Relax, a national off-site airport parking company is using photovoltaic cells that convert solar rays to useable energy and other advanced sustainable practices at the company’s new location at the Orlando International Airport. The new methods have transformed a 20-acre site into a 2000-space, covered airport parking facility that designed to reduce greenhouse emissions, lower energy use and lessen the overall impact to the environment.

“Fast Park is dedicated to reducing our impact on the environment, while providing efficient, quality airport parking services to our customers throughout the United States,” said Melanie Chavez, who oversees construction and branding for Fast Park. “Our Orlando facility represents a strong step in that direction and we look forward to implementing additional environmentally friendly technologies and systems as we grow our organization.”

Fast Park will utilize a solar photovoltaic system to produce electricity from sunlight and reduce the amount of electricity the Orlando facility must purchase from the local utility. Eighty solar panels will be installed atop the parking canopies at the Orlando Fast Park parking facility. The system will feed power into the utility grid to offset a portion of the electric power the facility will purchase from the utility.

Each panel is 42 inches by 62 inches, weighs 53 pounds, and is capable of producing 305 watts of power in full sun. Together the 80 modules create a 24 kilowatt (kW) system that will generate 30,372 kWh of energy per year – enough to power 30 average homes. The result is a reduction in regional green house gas (GHG) emissions of 21 tons per year. During its 25 year life, the system will reduce GHG emissions by 537 tons – the equivalent of planting more than 21,000 trees.

But the sustainable advances do not stop at solar energy. Featuring an energy-efficient lighting system, energy-efficient shuttle buses, water reclamation, and charging stations for electric automobiles, the Orlando Fast Park represents a new benchmark for the Fast Park organization – and large parking facilities across the country.

Fast Park opted to cover all of its approximately 2,000 parking spaces in Orlando with carports, which accounts for almost 50 percent of the total surface area of the facility. The carport roofs are covered with a highly reflective coating, which limits heat energy from being absorbed by the parking surface. This reduces higher heat island effect that can raise temperatures in the surrounding area and the adjacent water table.

The carports also allowed Fast Park to employ more energy-efficient fluorescent lights which operate on photocells. This brings a two-fold benefit. First, the florescent lights dramatically reduce energy consumption at the site. Second, the lighted carports have allowed Fast Park to minimize the use of high-mast lights, which significantly reduces light trespass emanating from the facility.

The heat island effect also is reduced by extensive strategic landscaping. However, additional vegetation requires more water. To keep its environmental efforts from become a zero-sum gain, Fast Park’s irrigation system utilizes water from the on-site water treatment pond, which derives its water source primarily from rain water that is collected at the site.

The use of new Sprinter shuttles has proven to reduce carbon emissions by more than 50 percent, when compared to traditional shuttle busses. Further, Sprinters get double the miles per gallon over traditional shuttles. Fast Park & Relax estimates that their fleet runs more than 430,000 miles per year in Orlando. By using the Sprinter fleet, the company will lower its fuel consumption by nearly 35,000 gallons and will emit more than 850,000 fewer pounds of CO2 annually.

Fast Park took further steps to lower energy needs indoors. The office building features larger than standard windows, which were added to the design to bring in more natural light. In the office energy efficient lights are controlled by photocells which incrementally turn on as natural light decreases. Thus, the facility only will use the minimum artificial light needed.

For future construction projects, green construction and outfitting practices will further minimize Fast Park’s environmental impact:
* Green furniture, which will have little to no VOC’s, and contribute to a healthy sustainable environment
* More use of recycled material during construction, which could include structural steel, gypsum board, acoustical ceiling tile, and carpet systems
* Water efficient fixtures, using sensor controls will further lower water usage

“It is important for Fast Park to become integrated in the communities we serve. We can only become part of the community if we take a leadership role in responsible operating practices,” Chavez added.