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Business Officer Magazine

Business Intel

A roundup of short news articles and useful resources for business officers

Ecofriendly Parking Efforts Gain Momentum

Among the industries that have made dramatic shifts toward sustainability is that of parking and transportation. Forward-thinking colleges and universities are among the leaders in spearheading parking design that supports reduced emissions and higher fuel efficiencies—and ties in with the overall campus energy strategy.

A prime example is Durham, North Carolina's Duke University Research Drive Parking Garage, which made headlines in 2010 as the first parking structure to earn the U.S. Green Building Council's certification for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). Among its sustainability features: an energy-saving LED (light-emitting diode) lighting system that harvests natural light in the daytime and minimizes light pollution coming out of the garage at night; rainwater-collection cisterns; green walls that reduce energy consumption and increase air quality; rain gardens; and preferred parking for carpool and electric vehicles (EVs).

Duke University's Research Drive Parking Garage is the first parking structure to earn the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED certification.
Duke University's Research Drive Parking Garage is the first parking structure to earn the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED certification.
Photo credit: Vince Strearo/Walker Parking

Campuses Counter Carbon

Universities are so much at the forefront of energy-smart parking that they make up a substantial chunk of the case studies in Sustainable Parking Design and Management: A Practitioner's Handbook (International Parking Institute, and the National Parking Association, 2014). The book presents innovative, top-to-bottom approaches to parking design and operations based on thoughtful stewardship of the planet.

"Demographic change is partly driving this trend—students have many choices, and they care about sustainability. It influences their buying decisions in a competitive market," says Rachel Yoka, vice president of program development, International Parking Institute.

Here are some examples of campus transportation and parking initiatives that many students support:

  • Car- and bike-share programs. For economic as well as sustain-ability reasons, students were among the first to embrace sharing cars and bicycles, and university parking and transportation professionals have wholeheartedly supported the transition. Today, nearly 90 universities across the country offer some kind of bike-sharing program, according to USA Today. These range from Texas A&M University's "Borrow a Bike" program that offers free bike use to students up to 30 times per academic year, to "Bike Emory," which offers yearlong bike rentals and a repair facility that will even deliver needed parts or accessories to students' dorm rooms for shared or privately owned bikes. At Boise State University, a massive "Bike Barn" offers secure storage for student bikes inside a standard parking garage; and a "Bike Corral" provides valet bike parking for major campus events.
  • Charging stations for electric and hybrid vehicles. As more students and faculty opt for alternative-fuel vehicles to avoid high gas prices and reduce emissions, universities are offering convenient EV charging stations. Stanford University offers Level 1 and Level 2 charging in four garages across campus for a nominal fee. At the University of Michigan, students, faculty, staff, and campus visitors can use "top-off" charging at Level 2 chargers in three campus locations. And, to raise the bar even higher, Chapman University provides free EV charging at five stations, which can be reserved via a mobile app and are available for campus and public use.
  • Green parking garages. One of the easiest ways campus parking can go green is through lighting upgrades. Increasingly, structures have switched to LED lighting, which not only saves money but also enhances security with a more white, bright, and visible light. When American University installed LED lighting in a garage in 2010, the upgrade saved an estimated $135,000 in energy costs in the first five years—equal to taking 194 cars off the road. Similarly, Florida International University brightened up a notoriously dark garage with LED lights and estimated its energy savings at $23,600 a year, with a projected four-year return on investment costs. 

While stand-alone garages aren't eligible for LEED certification, the Green Parking Council (an IPI affiliate) has launched its own solution: the Green Garage Certification. (Go to for details.) Among the institutions participating in the beta testing are Ohio State University, Miramar College, Florida International University, University of North Texas, George Mason University, and the University of Chicago. Modeled after the Green Building Council's LEED certification, the garage counterpart will inform parking garage managers how they're doing in terms of sustainability, while it shows customers the extent to which their parking options are environmentally friendly.

Tech Tool Tactics

In addition to these sustainability measures, campuses are incorporating new technologies to ease parking problems, payment delays, and other issues. Those include:

  • Mobile applications that make it easier to find and navigate to available parking spaces.
  • Automated payment systems that reduce or eliminate exit lines.
  • Other communication systems that convey real-time parking and transportation information via Web sites, mobile apps, and social media.

With their progressive and creative approaches to parking and transportation issues, universities will continue to serve as models for communities, leading by example. A straightforward equation generally comes into play: people, energy, and the planet. Reducing the carbon footprint by lowering emissions and gaining fuel efficiencies can bring benefits to both institutional and global bottom lines.

RESOURCE LINK: Sustainable Parking Design and Management: A Practitioner's Handbook is available at as a hardcover or e-book.

SUBMITTED BY Kim Fernandez, editor, The Parking Professional

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By the Numbers: How America Saves for College, 2014

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Here's to Your Organizational Health

In an April 2014 article in the McKinsey Quarterly (, "The Hidden Value of Organizational Health—and How to Capture It," three research consultants discuss their decade of study of companies, business units, and factories around the world-and their resulting conviction that sustained organizational health is one of the most powerful assets an institution can build.

The researchers, Aaron De Smet, Bill Schaninger, and Matthew Smith—all principals with McKinsey—base their conclusions on an analysis of answers to questions they've asked of more than a million employees, relating to perceptions of the health of their respective organizations and the kinds of management practices they do or do not observe. "We then produce a single health score, or index, reflecting the extent to which employees say that their organizations are 'great' in each of nine dimensions," the researchers note in the article reporting their findings.

In all, the health index reports on 37 management practices. When the researchers looked more closely at these practices that effective management teams focused on to deliver exceptional outcomes, they identified four combinations of practices, which they call "recipes," associated with sustained success.

  • Leader-driven. This recipe's hallmark is highly talented, potential leaders at all levels of the organization, who are given the freedom to figure out ways to deliver results and are held accountable for their ideas and actions.
  • Market-focused. This combination of traits or ingredients exhibits strong external orientation toward not only customers, but also the wider community, competitors, business partners, and regulators.
  • Executive-edge. These companies set a high standard for quality and maintaining that quality. The organizations conduct continuous process improvement, focusing on improved productivity and elimination of waste and inefficiency.
  • Talent and knowledge core. This combination is often found among professional-services companies, professional sports teams, and entertainment businesses. That's why the organizational focus lies in assembling and managing a high-quality talent and knowledge base. Rather than creating the dynamics of a strong leader directing a team, this recipe calls for developing the right mix of incentives that keeps individuals personally motivated.

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fast fact

Rice University-based publisher OpenStax College announced in late April its distribution partnership with NACSCORP, a subsidiary of the National Association of College Stores (NACS), that allows the nonprofit publisher to drop prices on all its print textbooks and distribute them to more than 3,000 college stores. According to OpenStax founder Richard Baraniuk, the NACS agreement will allow for an approximate 2 percent price reduction per year, along with lower shipping costs.

Lessons From Facebook Learning Group

According to a study at Baylor University, Waco, Texas, students who used a Facebook group as part of a large sociology class did better on course assignments and felt a stronger sense of belonging than in classes without the inclusion of social media. The study, "Using Facebook to Engage Learners in a Large Introductory Class," was conducted by Baylor sociology researchers. Published in Teaching Sociology, the study has implications for the challenge of teaching large classes—an issue of growing concern for higher education.

Report Shows Increase in College Attainment

A report released by the Lumina Foundation in late April shows that America achieved its largest year-over-year increase in degree attainment since 2008. According to the report, "A Stronger Nation Through Higher Education," 39.4 percent of working-age Americans, age 25–64, held a two- or four-year college degree in 2012, which is the most recent year for which data is available. In 2008, the rate was 37.9 percent. The latest information on degree attainment by young adults, age 25–34, is even more promising. At 40.9 percent, the gain is three percentage points higher than 2008. While this represents good news, the report also notes that maintaining this momentum through 2025 is a significant challenge. And, other countries continue to outpace the United States in educational achievement.

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