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The Negative Effects of Parking Lots

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Helena Vaughan

on 18 October 2013

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Transcript of The Negative Effects of Parking Lots

How do parking lots harm wildlife?
Storm water is contaminated water--> runs off into rivers, lakes, and especially wetlands
These contaminants affect the fish in the water, as well as other species that drink the water
Changes in tides throw off the natural processes of fish
Frogs, lizards, and other small animals get caught in the stream of suburban catch-basins and drains and end up trapped in drains
Parking lots are taking over
Our jumping off point is the song "Big Yellow Taxi" by the Counting Crows. The song speaks towards people's inability to preserve the environment's natural beauty. Moreover, the environment is sacrificed for a monetary benefit. Trees are unnecessarily being replaced with gigantic buildings and other structures which are becoming superfluous. We will be focusing on how PARKING LOTS are destroying the environment, as well as how you can prevent the construction of these lots from occurring.

5 ways parking lots hurt the environment
1. Increases Urban Heating 3. Causes pollutants to accumulate

2. Worsens local flooding and erosion 4. Hurts wildlife
5. Detrimental to natural landscape
Parking lots are built on top of natural habitats
Trees are often cut down, destroying the habitat of the animals
The wildlife is forced to move to other habitats, crowding these habitats and causing a depletion in resources
Emissions from maintaining parking lots can be more severe than those from driving
For example, Sulfur dioxide & CO2
How does storm water runoff/flooding affect wildlife?
How do parking lots take away habitats?
As an area becomes more urbanized and unnecessary construction occurs, the natural ground that can absorb rainfall is replaced.
How do parking lots contribute to pollution?
Nonpoint Source Pollution is pollution spread over a large area, not from one specific origin. Rain carries pollutants from the ground into a greater body of water.
It is the leading cause of water quality problems in the US.
"Each parking space in the United States comes at an annual cost of $6-$23 in health and environmental damages to society caused by air pollution alone"
Dangerous amounts of CO2 can build up in underground parking lots, so lot owners are required to get permits and follow strict regulations to ensure safety and health within the area.
Click here to find out more about PAHs:
What are Urban Heat Islands?
*Large city areas with temperatures noticeably greater than rural areas nearby*
Highly populated areas tend to be full of buildings, houses, shops, and paved areas. These are made of materials that absorb and hold heat, making the city very warm.
Not even cooler night temperatures allow for a decrease in temperature because parking lots trap the heat at ground level, preventing it from rising higher in the sky.
How can this be prevented?
Like the name suggests, these are roofs covered in plants and greenery.
This reduces the amount of tar and similar dark materials, effectively reflecting more sunlight and keeping temperatures down.
Reflective paving directs the sun's heat away from the pavement, rather than absorbing the heat.
In a study done by the US Government's Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, reflective paving was compared to standard black tar: on a hot day, the regular paving was
°F, while the reflective surface was
°F-- a significant difference!
Putting green parks within cities would help lower temperatures, allow people to enjoy the outdoors
Trees absorb then reflect sunlight they receive, creating naturally cool areas.

More of these green spaces and less artifical parking lots would counteract the intense heat currently being produced
Decreasing urban heat islands would:
Cut back need for cooling units-- saves energy and electricity costs
Reduce air pollution
Lower temperatures
Lessen wear and damage on vehicles
Allow people without access to air conditioning to live more comfortably
Pollutants, such as grease, oil, metals and other runoffs, enter parking lots but cannot be absorbed
They accumulate until it rains, at which point the pollutants run into nearby storm drains, lakes, and rivers
This is an example of Nonpoint Source Pollution
Many parking lot puddles hold polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), chemicals harmful to animals, and sometimes humans' health
Chester, Mikhail, Arpad Horvath, and Samer Madanat. "Parking Infrastructure and the Environment."ACCESS: the Magazine of UCTC. UC Regents, n.d. Web. 11 Oct 2013.

Gibbons, Jim. "Parking Lots." Nonpoint Education for Municipal Officials. 5. Haddam: 1999.

Johnson, Rob. "Turning up the Heat: What is the 'Heat Island Effect' and What Can You Do About It?" National Real Estate Investor. Penton, 01 Sept. 2000. Web. 13 Oct 2013.

"Retail Parking Lots, Environmental Impacts and Development Policies: Research Roundup."Journalist's Resource. Harvard Kennedy School, n.d. Web. 12 Oct 2013.

Thompson, Andrea. "Parking Lots Outnumber People, Add to Pollution." Live Science. TechMedia Innovator, 17 Sept. 2007. Web. 10 Oct 2013.

"Urban Heat Island." National Geographic Education. National Geographic Society, n.d. Web. 13 Oct 2013.

"Why Are Parking Lots Bad for the Environment?."wiseGEEK. Conjecture Corporation, 17 Sept. 2007. Web. 11 Oct 2013.

Williams, Kimber. "Permeable Parking Lot Reduces Environmental Impacts." Emory News Center. Emory University, 28 May 2013. Web. 12 Oct 2013.
"Insight: How Do Parking Lots Affect the Environment?."Environmental Research Web. IOP Publishing, 30 Aug. 2010. Web. 10 Oct 2013.

Surface runoff occurs when rainfall falls on impervious surfaces. One of these impervious surfaces is a paved parking lot.


The surface of paved parking lots are unable to absorb water; therefore, the water collects on the asphalt and increases the chances of a flood. Moreover, the large surface area of parking loss can lead to sheet erosion (water flowing across wide, uniform area). The runoff water from parking lots is detrimental because it destroys soil from the surrounding landscapes, since the water is not absorbed.
Floods destroys people's local neighborhoods and homes.

Aside from destruction, floods disrupt sewage and sanitation services. As a result, bacteria and viruses spread around rapidly and people get sick.

How do parking lots affect natural landscapes?

Why are trees and plants important anyways?
Trees and plants are "natural air cleaners". This means that they absorb carbon dioxide and let out oxygen which is then breathed in by humans. By clearing these trees and plants, we are minimizing the amount of clean oxygen that is produced into the air.
How do trees and plants suffer when parking lots are built?
1) Leads to root damage and soil volume restriction when trees are removed

2) The trees that are built in the parking lots have and they can cause sidewalks to crack and heave

3) Topsoil is removed

These three occur when these trees and plants are removed. Not only do they hurt the plants and trees directly, they impact our environment as a whole. If we build less parking lots, we can appreciate and preserve the resources that these natural landscapes provide for us!

Did you know?

How can YOU prevent more parking lots being built?

The number of parking lots exceeds the driver population. Clearly, parking lots are being built unnecessarily AND they are hurting the environment. You can
the path for a healthy environment by following a few simple steps, rather than allow parking lots to be

1) Drive only when absolutely necessary.
2) Carpool with others
3) Take public transport
4) Petition/write to your local representative
Want to know more?
Check out this article about an environmentally friendly parking lot that was built at Emory!

Open the trunk for the sources!
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