CPTED for Parking Lots and Garages

Sound practices for security

Lighting in parking garages and open surface lots is a critical design feature that can support all of the other security features. Without good lighting, CCTV systems become relatively useless, and natural surveillance is impaired. To accomplish the goal of uniform levels of lighting, illumination standards are written with average to minimum lighting levels.

Lighting in garages is addressed in detail in the IESNA G-1-03 Guidelines for Security Lighting publication. It recommends lighting levels of 5-6 footcandles in gathering areas such as stairs, elevators and ramps. Walkways around garages should have a 5 footcandle range. Open parking lots should have a minimum of 3 footcandles, as would open parking lots in retail shopping areas, and parking lots for hotels and motels and apartment buildings. Entrances should have 10 footcandles of lighting or twice the level of lighting in the surrounding area to make it stand out and increase visibility. Perimeter fencing should have at least a half footcandle of average horizontal illumination on both sides of the fencing to reduce hiding spots.

Ideally, an open parking lot should have a combination of high and low lighting to provide maximum coverage, and maximum visibility with minimum shadows and hiding opportunities.

The interior of parking garages should be painted in light colors to increase reflectiveness of the lighting luminaries. Luminaries should use polycarbonate lenses for vandal and break resistance. Maintenance protocol should be established that repairs and replaces damaged lights or burned out bulbs in a timely manor, and replaces existing bulbs based on their known life expectancy.

Guard houses and cashier stations must have adequate levels of security lighting, and considerations of lighting placement to support CCTV coverage and dimmable to allow a guard to see outside. The paths to garages must be illuminated to provide clear and unobstructed mobility paths.

Mixed and Multiple Use
New trends in parking include making parking part of a mixed-use development. By having legitimate users in and around the parking facility, it increases the number of users and casual walk-by “eyes on the street.” The increased pedestrian activity acts as a way of increasing the number of potential witnesses of criminal or inappropriate activity. Many garages are adding retail storefronts such as Kinko’s or Starbucks, pizza places or car washing to have complementary safe activities that draw people to their business.

Another trend is to have multiple uses for parking, as compared to mixed use. Multiple use might have the loading to a restaurant on the edge of a garage take place in the garage, or having car washing vendors, coffee or snack food vendors, or having reserved parking during the day for businesses, but at night a flat fee parking for the nightclub and restaurant district. Whether the uses are mixed, or multiple, the goal is to attract as much legitimate activity and increased natural surveillance.

Security Management
These suggestions are aimed at the design of parking facilities. However, they should not be separate from sound security management practices. Security management principles can vary. For example, if you use security guards in the garage or open lots, it makes good sense to plan a guard tour system that accounts for the guard making patrol at regular and irregular intervals. By documenting the patrol patterns, the guard tour system creates a paper trail and accountability that the security guard is not negligent on the job.

Security management can also play an important role in the upkeep and maintenance of parking lots and garages is a because of their consideration for security and safety concerns. A building may be designed to operate very efficiently and look good; however, if the building is not given the necessary maintenance, it will deteriorate quickly.

Security management practices should be carefully considered in the initial design, or redesign, of parking facilities. For example, having a guard tour system requires electrical conduits and systems planning so that the asphalt or concrete does not have to be damaged to place the conduit.

Randall Atlas, CPP is an internationally recognized trainer and speaker in CPTED and infrastructure security; and Designing Safe Schools, the National Crime Prevention Institute and Florida Atlantic University, College of Architecture. He is vice-president of Atlas Safety & Security Design Inc. His recently published book, “21st Century Security and CPTED: Designing for Critical Infrastructure Protection and Crime Prevention,” is available through CRC Press (www.crcpress.com). For more information or to contact Mr. Atlas, visit www.cpted-security.com.