Sustainable Energy

Finally! A way to find that free parking space

Anmar Frangoul | Special to
How to find that perfect parking place
How to find that perfect parking place

Parking: the bane of drivers across the globe. Amid all the stresses of city life, finding a space to park can be arduous.

In Paris, a city where driving is a cutthroat business, one company is using technology to transform the way we think about our cars, the environment and parking.

The idea behind Zenpark is a simple one. Hotels, apartment blocks and commercial parking lots put available spaces up for hire as and when they become free.

Zenpark members are able to go online, find out where the spaces are, and park their car, paying a finder's fee in the process. Moreover, they spend less time driving around the city looking for a space, helping to improve air quality and cut pollution.

"We had a vision – this original vision was to say that we could have an impact on automobile traffic, a positive impact, and in particular on CO2 emissions," William Rosenfeld, CEO of Zenpark, told CNBC's Sustainable Energy.

Usability is key to Zenpark. A mobile app or remote controlled 'key' called a Zenpass are used to access parking spots, with the time the driver enters and exits the space being noted down automatically, and charges imposed accordingly. Technology designed by Zenpark is fitted to carparks so that users can access available spaces.

Paris is no stranger when it comes to innovation in green urban transport. The electric car sharing service, Autolib, was launched in 2011, while pioneering bike share scheme, Velib, was launched in 2007, three years before London's "Boris Bikes" were launched.

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The need for more innovative ideas to improve the air quality in Paris is a pressing one. In March of this year, air pollution in the city became so bad – the Eiffel tower was covered in thick smog – that a wave of measures were taken to improve air quality.

These included allowing only cars with odd numbered number plates to drive in the city with the restrictions being enforced by police from 05:30 am. The scheme was halted after one day, as conditions improved.

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Rosenfeld went on to add that the Zenpark service is helping to make Paris a greener, more sustainable city.

"Only a year and a half after our service was put into operation, we are proud to say that this vision is materializing," Rosenfeld added. "Because of us, 10 tonnes of CO2 emissions are saved every month by the city of Paris alone."