System Cost

There are many things to consider when deciding whether to install an automated parking system, including:

  • More LEED points
  • No vehicle vandalism or theft
  • No damage from other vehicles
  • Luxury parking experience
  • Increased driver’s safety
  • Less CO2 emissions
  • More green space
  • Structural grid spacing allowing better structural continuity
  • Better entitlements for developers
  • All spaces ADA compliant

But the most important consideration of all is likely to be cost. Cost is a critical factor but it’s too simplistic, and misleading, to merely compare the cost per space of an automated parking system with the cost per space of conventional parking. The whole development cost should be analyzed to provide a full picture of the potential cost savings offered by an automated parking system. Items to be incorporated in the cost benefit analysis include potential cost savings from:

  • Reduced construction time
  • Reduced excavation
  • Reduced land cost
  • Reduced air rights costs
  • Tax benefits through accelerated depreciation
  • Reduced operator requirements
  • Reduced lighting, heating and ventilation requirements
  • Reduced insurance premiums

Importantly there’s the added value from the space gained by installing an automated parking system providing more leasable or sellable real estate to include also.

The following table from Walker Parking Consultants indicates construction cost comparisons for a conventional garage versus an automated garage in three different configurations: 1) stand-alone building above grade, 2) above grade with building above, and 3) below grade with a building above.

Construction Cost Comparisons between Conventional Ramp Garages and Automated Garages (Monahan: 2012)

Construction Cost Comparisons between Conventional Ramp Garages and Automated Garages (Monahan: 2012)

According to Don Manahan, Vice President of Walker Parking Consultants in Denver, CO, “because of the relatively low unit cost for the stand-alone, above grade garage, the savings in better efficiency of the automated garage does not offset the added cost of the automated machinery. Therefore the conventional, above grade garage will most often be less cost per stall than the automated garage, unless the site is very small resulting in a very poor efficiency for the conventional garage. However, the short span column design for a building above the garage results in a poor efficiency for the conventional garage. The savings in floor area for the automated garage at the high unit cost offsets the cost of the automated machinery such that the automated garage is then less expensive than the conventional garage. Similarly, the unit cost is even higher for below grade construction below a building. The automated garage is then significantly less expensive than the conventional garage in that application.” (emphasis added)