A $29 million green parking garage

Think cars can't be clean? Check out the solar-powered car park designed by a Santa Monica architecture firm.

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In his new book The Plot to Save the Planet, Fortune Small Business editorial director Brian Dumaine chronicles how entrepreneurs are tapping into what could be the biggest economic opportunity of the 21st century: clean, money-saving technology.

(Fortune Small Business) -- Moore Ruble Yudell Architects, a 65-employee firm in Santa Monica, has been designing sustainable buildings for more than two decades. The company markets its green expertise to secure high-profile projects around the world, including the new U.S. embassy in Berlin and a planned consulate in Taipei.

A more local project is an environmentally friendly parking structure for the Santa Monica Civic Center. To build the LEED-certified car park, the designers used recycled steel and concrete from a bonding mixture that required less energy than cement. Reflective glass panels decorate the structure, maximizing natural light and reducing electricity consumption. Rooftop photovoltaic panels harness solar energy to generate one-third of the garage's electricity. And its water-recycling system channels nonsewage water to the sprinklers.

Those features weren't cheap: The $29 million pricetag for the car park is about $10 million more than those for comparable garages. Santa Monica estimates that its parking structure will be profitable within 15 years, generating revenue from 900 parking spaces and 9,000 square feet of retail space.  To top of page

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