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Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2011

Post clarifies parking rules at headquarters

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FORT BENNING, Ga. — Fort Benning officials have established “preferred parking” spaces around McGinnis-Wickam Hall in an effort to reduce pollution and land-development impacts from automobile use.

The best spots — those closest to the main entrance of the Maneuver Center of Excellence headquarters at Building 4 — will be reserved for motorists who drive low-emitting and fuel-efficient vehicles, said Peter Lukken, the garrison’s strategic sustainability planner. However, that does not apply to handicap-designated spaces.

“The building’s requirements dictate which vehicles can park in the closer spots,” he said. “Many of the marked spaces are open right now. This gives people incentives to purchase a low-emitting, fuel-efficient vehicle. Hopefully, we’ll have all the spaces filled up in the next few months.

“It may be somewhat confusing now, especially when there are empty spaces not being used, but it is important to show an additional intent of future car purchasing incentive to those who may be thinking about their next purchase — a considerably fuel-efficient vehicle or not. By doing this, we are making a powerful statement of our commitment to those who are also making a commitment. … There’s intrinsic value with encouraging employees to think about making a change when it comes to the environment, perhaps even making a small difference when buying one of the new hybrid vehicles.”

Like all new facilities across Fort Benning, McGinnis-Wickam Hall was built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design silver standards, incorporating sustainability and “green” measures into the engineering and construction. Lukken said silver is the Army standard, but post officials are aiming for gold, which would make the MCoE headquarters building among the largest in the Department of Defense to fit that benchmark.

The U.S. Green Building Council developed the LEED metric rating system. Buildings earn 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 its gold standard, Fort Benning has marked 5 percent of the building’s total vehicle capacity as “preferred parking” for low-emitting and fuel-efficient vehicles, Lukken said. 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.

In most cases, Fort Benning police will ticket illegally parked vehicles, unless it creates a hazard — and then they will be towed, the Directorate of Emergency Services said. MCoE Regulation 210-7 outlines parking management around McGinnis-Wickam Hall.

Lukken said the garrison will consider multiple alternatives, make periodic assessments and remain flexible in its bid to reduce overall vehicle emissions on post. Environmentally friendly transportation options include getting personnel to seek car and vanpooling opportunities.

The installation is working with The Clean Air Campaign, a Georgia nonprofit organization, as part of a statewide strategic initiative to help the environment by reducing employee commute trips, said Tiffani Migliore, a garrison strategic planner. In the Chattahoochee Valley, 67 percent of all smog-forming emissions come from the tailpipes of cars and trucks.

“It reduces traffic through the gates, frees up more parking spaces (and) reduces harmful emissions caused by vehicle exhaust,” she said.

Why carpool?

Driving alone costs the average commuter 56 cents a mile in gas, tires, maintenance, wear and tear, depreciation and ownership costs. How much are you spending on your daily commute? Multiply the total roundtrip distance in miles by .56 to find out.

Fort Benning is working with The Clean Air Campaign to help you save money on your commute. Some tips:

• With gas prices constantly on the rise, carpooling is a great way to mitigate the costs. Find people in your area who have a commute similar to yours and start reaping the benefits. Carpooling enables you to save money, reduce carbon dioxide emissions and decrease traffic congestion. • Network with others. The first step in starting a carpool is networking. Wherever you work and live, you must network in the area and get to know some of the people around you. • Make sure the group of people you get in your carpool group are compatible. Obviously, you need to be geographically compatible, but also be sure to have some kind of emotional compatibility or your trips won’t be any fun. • The big question you must decide as a group is whether you will simply take turns driving to work or break it up by miles per gallon and split the payment. In reality, the miles per gallon formula is more even if you have vehicles that get different gas mileage, but most settle on the simpler version of just taking turns. • In the past year or two, there has been a real demand for carpooling, and there are now a few Internet sites devoted specifically to helping you find other people in your area who are looking to get into a carpool. This is a good way to find others if you are having trouble networking.

For more information, call 706-545-4487, visit the Fort Benning Facebook page or go to www.benning.army.mil/garrison/MassTransit.

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 knows this program was the reason you switched. There also are carpool rewards. If your carpool has more than three 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.

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