Publications, Reports, and Media

Embodied Emissions in Rail Infrastructure: A Critical Literature Review

Environmental Research Letters, 14(12), doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/ab442f

This paper investigates the state of knowledge in quantifying the embodied greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in rail infrastructure and develops a sketch model for estimating the GHG impact of rail infrastructure based on the literature. A literature review identified 22 publications, containing 57 case studies, at least touching on the embodied GHG for different types of rail infrastructure. The cases studies include high speed rail, intercity rail, light rail, commuter rail, heavy rail, freight, and metro rail. The paper examines the GHG impact per kilometre of rail infrastructure reported across the case studies and compares the boundaries, functional units, methods, and data used. Most studies employed process-based LCA for an attributional analysis. The embodied emissions associated with the case studies range from 0.5 to 12 700 tCO2 km−1; much of the variation is dependent on the proportion of the rail line at-grade, elevated, or in a tunnel. However, large ranges in GHG per kilometre remain after controlling for elevated and tunneled distance. Comparing the embodied emissions across the rail types was challenging, due to the large variations in system boundaries, study goals, and inventory methods adopted in the publications. This review highlights the need for standardization across the reporting of embodied GHG for rail infrastructure to better facilitate hot spot detection, engineering design and GHG policy decision making. The statistical model finds that overall ~941(±168) tCO2e are embodied per kilometre of rail at-grade, and tunneling has 27 (±5) times more embodied GHG per kilometre than at-grade construction. The statistical model is based on the findings of published literature and does not explicitly consider function, geometry, specifications, emphasis on whole lifecycle, legislative constraints, socio-economic factors, or the physical and environmental conditions of the construction site.

Impact of Climate Change on Pavement Structural Performance in the United States

Transportation Part D, 57, pp. 172-184, doi: 10.1016/j.trd.2017.09.022

This study uses climate projections from multiple models and for different climate regions to investigate how climate change may impact the transportation infrastructure in the United States. Climate data from both an ensemble of 19 different climate models at both RCP8.5 and RCP4.5 as well as three individual prediction models at the same Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP) levels is used. These models are integrated into the AASHTOWare Pavement ME software to predict the pavement performance. Comparisons are made between the predicted performance with respect to typical pavement distresses using both historical climate data as well as climate projection data. Though there is substantial variation for different prediction models in terms of the magnitude of the impact, the consistency in results suggest that projected climate changes are highly likely to result in greater distresses and/or earlier failure of the pavement. This finding is consistent across all the climate zones studied, but varies in magnitude of 2–9% for fatigue cracking and 9–40% for AC rutting at the end of 20 years depending on the climate region of the pavement section and prediction model used. This study also compares the impacts incorporating temperature only projections with temperature and precipitation projections. In this respect, the sections considered in this study do not show any substantial difference in the pavement performance when the precipitation data from the climate predictions are also considered in the climate inputs into AASHTOWare Pavement ME software.

Progress and Challenges in Incorporating Climate Change Information into Transportation Research and Design

Journal of Infrastructure Systems, 23(4), doi: 10.1061/(ASCE)IS.1943-555X.0000377

The vulnerability of the nation’s transportation infrastructure to climate change and extreme weather is now well documented and the transportation community has identified numerous strategies to potentially mitigate these vulnerabilities. The challenges to the infrastructure sector presented by climate change can only be met through collaboration between the climate science community, who evaluate what the future will likely look like, and the engineering community, who implement our societal response. To facilitate this process, the authors asked: what progress has been made and what needs to be done now in order to allow for the graceful convergence of these two disciplines? In late 2012, the Infrastructure and Climate Network (ICNet), a National Science Foundation–supported research collaboration network, was established to answer that question. This article presents examples of how the ICNet experience has shown the way toward a new generation of innovation and cross-disciplinary research, challenges that can be address by such collaboration, and specific guidance for partnerships and methods to effectively address complex questions requiring a cogeneration of knowledge.

Increased Costs to US Pavement Infrastructure from Future Temperature Rise

Nature Climate Change, 7, pp. 704-707, doi: 10.1038/nclimate3390

Roadway design aims to maximize functionality, safety, and longevity. The materials used for construction, however, are often selected on the assumption of a stationary climate. Anthropogenic climate change may therefore result in rapid infrastructure failure and, consequently, increased maintenance costs, particularly for paved roads where temperature is a key determinant for material selection. Here, we examine the economic costs of projected temperature changes on asphalt roads across the contiguous United States using an ensemble of 19 global climate models forced with RCP 4.5 and 8.5 scenarios. Over the past 20 years, stationary assumptions have resulted in incorrect material selection for 35% of 799 observed locations. With warming temperatures, maintaining the standard practice for material selection is estimated to add approximately US$13.6, US$19.0 and US$21.8 billion to pavement costs by 2010, 2040 and 2070 under RCP4.5, respectively, increasing to US$14.5, US$26.3 and US$35.8 for RCP8.5. These costs will disproportionately affect local municipalities that have fewer resources to mitigate impacts. Failing to update engineering standards of practice in light of climate change therefore significantly threatens pavement infrastructure in the United States.

Rolling Resistance Contribution to a Road Pavement Life Cycle Carbon Footprint Analysis

International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 2017, 22(6), pp. 972-985, doi: 10.1007/s11367-016-1203-9

Although the impact of road pavement surface condition on rolling resistance has been included in the life cycle assessment (LCA) framework of several studies in the last years, there is still a high level of uncertainty concerning the methodological assumptions and the parameters that can affect the results. In order to adopt pavement carbon footprint/LCA as a decision-making tool, it is necessary to explore the impact of the chosen methods and assumptions on the LCA results. This paper provides a review of the main models describing the impact of the pavement surface properties on vehicle fuel consumption and analyses the influence of the methodological assumptions related to the rolling resistance on the LCA results. It compares the CO2 emissions, calculated with two different rolling resistance models existing in literature, and performs a sensitivity test on some specific input variables (pavement deterioration rate, traffic growth, and emission factors/fuel efficiency improvement). The model used to calculate the impact of the pavement surface condition on fuel consumption significantly affects the LCA results. The pavement deterioration rate influences the calculation in both models, while traffic growth and fuel efficiency improvement have a limited impact on the vehicle CO2 emissions resulting from the pavement condition contribution to rolling resistance. Existing models linking pavement condition to rolling resistance and hence vehicle emissions are not broadly applicable to the use phase of road pavement LCA and further research is necessary before a widely-used methodology can be defined. The methods of modelling and the methodological assumptions need to be transparent in the analysis of the impact of the pavement surface condition on fuel consumption, in order to be interpreted by decision makers and implemented in an LCA framework. This will be necessary before product category rules (PCR) for pavement LCA can be extended to include the use phase.

Greenhouse Gas and Air Quality Effects of Auto First-Last Mile Use With Transit

Transportation Research Part D, 2017, 53, pp. 306-320, doi: 10.1016/j.trd.2017.04.030

With potential for automobiles to cause increased greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution relative to other modes, there is concern that using automobiles to access or egress public transportation may significantly increase the environmental impacts from door-to-door transit trips. Yet little rigorous work has been developed that quantitatively assesses the effects of transit access or egress by automobiles. This research evaluates the life-cycle impacts of first-and-last mile trips on multimodal transit. An environmental life-cycle assessment of transit and automobile travel in the greater Los Angeles region is developed to evaluate the impacts of multimodal transit trips by utilizing existing transportation life-cycle assessment methods. First-last mile automobile trips with transit may increase multimodal trip emissions significantly, mitigating potential impact reductions from transit usage. In some cases, multimodal transit trips with first-last mile automobile use may have higher emissions than competing automobile trips. In the near-term, first-last mile automobile trips in some Los Angeles transit services may account for up to 66% of multimodal greenhouse gas trip emissions, and as much as 75% of multimodal air quality impacts. Fossil fuel energy generation and combustion, low vehicle occupancies, and longer trip distances contribute most to increased multimodal impacts. Supply chain analysis indicates that life-cycle air quality impacts may occur largely locally (in Los Angeles) or largely remotely depending on the propulsion method and location of upstream life-cycle processes. Reducing 10% of transit system greenhouse emissions requires a shift of 23–50% of automobile first-last mile trips to a neutral emissions mode.

Heat Exposure and Transit Use: Travel Behavior and Infrastructure

ASU Report No. ASU-SSEBE-CESEM-2017-CPR-001

Public transit necessitates environmental exposure and there is increasing recognition that in a future with hotter temperatures new strategies are needed to protect passengers. Arizona State University’s Spring 2017 Urban Infrastructure Anatomy course assessed travel behavior, public transit stop design, and heat exposure to develop recommendations for mitigating heat exposure. Travel surveys, analysis of infrastructure characteristics, and thermal imaging were used to assess exposure. A suite of mitigation strategies was developed from a literature review, conversations with experts, and review of other transit systems. Focusing on neighborhoods in Tempe, Arizona, strategies are developed for protecting future riders from negative health outcomes.

The Net Greenhouse Gas Impact of the Sheppard Subway Line

Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment, 2017, 51, 261-275, doi: 10.1016/j.trd.2017.01.007

As cities work to reduce their total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the transportation sector is lagging, accounting for a growing percentage of total emissions in many cities. The provision of public transit, and specifically urban rail transit, is widely seen as a useful tool for reducing urban transportation GHG emissions. There is, however, limited understanding of the net impact of new metro rail infrastructure on urban emissions. This paper examines the net GHG emission of the Sheppard Subway Line in Toronto, Canada. The GHG emissions associated with construction, operation, ridership and changes in residential density associated with the provision of the new metro rail infrastructure are assessed. These components are then combined and compared to calculate the net GHG impact across the study period, which extends from opening in 2002 through 2011. The GHG payback period is calculated. After nine years of operation, the Sheppard Subway Line is found to have nearly paid back its initial GHG investment in the optimistic case. The payback was due to the calculated mode shift from automobiles, changes in residential density and associated energy savings in the station pedestrian catchment areas. The payback period is very sensitive to the potential for induced demand to backfill the mode shifted automobile kilometres.

Transit System Design and Vulnerability of Riders to Heat

Journal of Transportation and Health, 2017, 4, pp. 216-225, doi: 10.1016/j.jth.2016.07.005

In the United States public transit utilization has increased significantly in the last decade and is considered a critical component in reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in urban areas. Despite public transit׳s climate change mitigation potential, the use of transit necessitates environmental exposure which may be a health hazard during periods of extreme heat. Transit system design, which includes stop location and schedules, is shown to contribute to environmental exposure resulting from access and waiting. Using Los Angeles Metro (Los Angeles County, CA) and Valley Metro (Maricopa County, AZ) as case studies of systems operating in extreme heat conditions, the research demonstrates how system design contributes to heat exposure times that vary significantly between neighborhoods. Household level access (walking) time estimates are developed using a shortest path algorithm to nearby transit stops. Waiting time estimates for individual transit stops are derived from published transit schedules and on-board survey responses. The results show that transit users from areas with low residential density, limited high capacity roadways and irregular street networks, and not located along direct paths between major activity centers are likely to experience prolonged access and/or waiting times. Public transit may help mitigate climate change impacts but transit proponents, agencies and planners should be cognizant of the impact an uncertain climate future may have on a growing base of transit riders. These insights can allow us to proactively govern and adapt transit systems to protect people from a growing health concern.

Low-volume roads constitute a major percentage of roadways around the world. Many of these are located in seasonal frost areas where agencies increase and decrease the allowable weight limits based on seasonal fluctuations in the load carrying capacity of the roadway due to freeze–thaw conditions. As temperatures shift due to changing climate, the timing and duration of winter freeze and spring thaw periods are likely to change, potentially causing significant impacts to local industry and economies. In this study, an ensemble of 19 climate models were used to project future temperature changes and the impact of these changes on the frost depth and timing of seasonal load changes across five instrumented pavement sites in New England. The study shows that shifts of up to 2 weeks are projected at the end of the century and that moderate variability was observed across the study region, indicating that local conditions are important for future assessments depending on the desired level of accuracy. From 1970 to 1999, the average freezing season lasted between 9 and 13 weeks in the study region. By 2000–2029, the frozen period shortens by approximately 10 days over baseline duration (10–20% reduction). By the end of the century under RCP 4.5, frozen periods are typically shorter by 4 weeks or a 30–40% reduction. However, RCP 8.5 results indicate that four out of the five sites would have no frozen period during at least six winters from 2060 to 2089.

Exploring the Suitability of Electric Vehicles in the United States

Energy, 2017, 121, pp. 631-642, doi: 10.1016/

This study explores suitability of battery electric vehicles in the United States by considering their potential market share and operations costs as well as the state-specific variations in electricity generation profiles, given current government policies and the social acceptability of the technology. A performance assessment is developed to compare each state and identify major policy efforts that are needed to increase the environmental and economic competitiveness of electric vehicles. A novel multi-criteria decision-support framework, integrating Life Cycle Assessment, Data Envelopment Analysis, and Agent Based Modeling, is developed. To this end, the environmental and economic impacts of battery electric vehicles are calculated based on three scenarios: an average electricity generation mix, a marginal electricity generation mix, and a solely renewable energy mix with 100% solar. The states are classified, each requiring different policy strategies, in accordance with their performance scores. The results provide important insights for advancing transportation policies and a novel framework for multi-criteria decision-making in the future analyses.

Uncertainty in Life Cycle Costing for Long-Range Infrastructure. Part I: Leveling the Playing Field to Address Uncertainties

International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 2017, 22(2), pp. 277-292, doi: 10.1007/s11367-016-1154-1

Life cycle costing (LCC) is a state-of-the-art method to analyze investment decisions in infrastructure projects. However, uncertainties inherent in long-term planning question the credibility of LCC results. Previous research has not systematically linked sources and methods to address this uncertainty. Part I of this series develops a framework to collect and categorize different sources of uncertainty and addressing methods. This systematization is a prerequisite to further analyze the suitability of methods and levels the playing field for part II. Past reviews have dealt with selected issues of uncertainty in LCC. However, none has systematically collected uncertainties and linked methods to address them. No comprehensive categorization has been published to date. Part I addresses these two research gaps by conducting a systematic literature review. Sources of uncertainties were categorized according to (i) its origin, i.e., parameter, model, and scenario uncertainty and (ii) the nature of uncertainty, i.e., aleatoric or epistemic uncertainty. The methods to address uncertainties were classified into deterministic, probabilistic, possibilistic, and other methods. With regard to sources of uncertainties, lack of data and data quality was analyzed most often. Most uncertainties having been discussed were located in the use stage. With regard to methods, sensitivity analyses were applied most widely, while more complex methods such as Bayesian models were used less frequently. Data availability and the individual expertise of LCC practitioner foremost influence the selection of methods. This article complements existing research by providing a thorough systematization of uncertainties in LCC. However, an unambiguous categorization of uncertainties is difficult and overlapping occurs. Such a systemizing approach is nevertheless necessary for further analyses and levels the playing field for readers not yet familiar with the topic. Part I concludes the following: First, an investigation about which methods are best suited to address a certain type of uncertainty is still outstanding. Second, an analysis of types of uncertainty that have been insufficiently addressed in previous LCC cases is still missing. Part II will focus on these research gaps.

Extensive published literature shows that hydrated lime improves Hot Mix Asphalt (HMA) durability. Its impact on the environmental impact of HMA has not been investigated. This paper presents a comparative Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) for the use of HMA without hydrated lime (classical HMA) and with hydrated lime (modified HMA) for the lifetime of a highway. System boundaries cover the life cycle from cradle-to-grave, meaning extraction of raw materials to end of life of the road. The main assumptions were: 1. Lifetime of the road 50 years; 2. Classical HMA with a life span of 10 years, maintenance operations every 10 years; 3. Modified HMA with an increase in the life span by 25%, maintenance operations every 12.5 years. For the lifetime of the road, modified HMA has the lowest environmental footprint compared to classical HMA with the following benefits: 43% less primary total energy consumption resulting in 23% lower emissions of greenhouse gases. Partial LCAs focusing only on the construction and/or maintenance phase should be used with caution since they could lead to wrong decisions if the durability and the maintenance scenarios differ. Sustainable construction technologies should not only consider environmental impact as quantified by LCA, but also economic and social impacts as well. Avoiding maintenance steps means less road works, fewer traffic jams and hence less CO2 emissions.

Uncertainty in Life Cycle Costing for Long-Range Infrastructure. Part II: Guidance and Suitability of Applied Methods to Address Uncertainty

International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 2016, 21(8), pp. 1170-1184, doi: 10.1007/s11367-016-1154-1

Life cycle costing (LCC) is the state-of-the-art method to economically evaluate long-term projects over their life spans. However, uncertainty in long-range planning raises concerns about LCC results. In Part I of this series, we developed a holistic framework of the different types of uncertainty in infrastructure LCCs. The aim of Part II is to evaluate the suitability of methods to cope with uncertainty in LCC. Part I addressed two research gaps. It presented a systematic collection of uncertainties and methods in LCC and, furthermore, provided a holistic categorization of both. However, Part I also raised new issues. First, a combined analysis of sources and methods is still outstanding. Such an investigation would reveal the suitability of different methods to address a certain type of uncertainty. Second, what has not been assessed so far is what types of uncertainty are insufficiently addressed in LCC. This would be a feature to improve accuracy of LCC results within LCC, by suggesting options to better cope with uncertainty. To address these research gaps in Part II, the suitability of methods to address uncertainties were analyzed. The suitability depends on data availability, type of data (tangible, intangible, random, non-random), screened hotspots, and tested modeling specifications. The methods include probabilistic modeling such as design of experiment or subset simulation and evolutionary algorithm and Bayesian modeling such as the Bayesian latent Markov decision process. Subsequently, the learning potential from other life cycle assessment (LCA) and life cycle sustainability assessment (LCSA) were evaluated. This analysis revealed 28 possible applications that have not yet been used in LCC. Lastly, best practices for LCC practitioners were developed. This systematic review complements prior research on uncertainty in LCC for infrastructure, as laid out in Part I. Part II concludes that all relevant methods to address uncertainty are currently applied in LCC. Yet, the level of application is different. Moreover, not all methods are equally suited to address different categories of uncertainty. This review offers guidance on what to do for each source and type of uncertainty. It illustrates how methods can address both based on current practice in LCC, LCA, and LCSA. The findings of Part II encourage a dialog between practitioners of LCC, LCA, and LCSA to advance research and practice in uncertainty analysis.

A Methodology for Robust Comparative Life Cycle Assessments Incorporating Uncertainty

Environmental Science and Technology, 2016, 50, pp. 6397-6405, doi: 10.1021/acs.est.5b04969

A methodology for conducting robust comparative life cycle assessments (LCA) by leveraging uncertainty is proposed. The method evaluates a broad range of the possible scenario space in a probabilistic fashion while simultaneously considering uncertainty in input data. The method is intended to ascertain which scenarios have a definitive environmentally preferable choice among the alternatives being compared and the significance of the differences given uncertainty in the parameters, which parameters have the most influence on this difference, and how to identify the resolvable scenarios (where one alternative in the comparison has a clearly lower environmental impact). This is accomplished via an aggregated probabilistic scenario-aware analysis, followed by an assessment of which scenarios have resolvable alternatives. Decision-tree partitioning algorithms are used to isolate meaningful scenario groups. In instances where the alternatives cannot be resolved for scenarios of interest, influential parameters are identified using sensitivity analysis. If those parameters can be refined, the process can be iterated using the refined parameters. Definitions of uncertainty quantities that have not been applied in the field of LCA and approaches for characterizing uncertainty in those quantities are presented. The methodology is then demonstrated through a case study of pavements.

Pavement Life-Cycle Assessment Framework

Federal Highway Administration Project Report

Awareness of the importance of environmental protection, and the possible impacts associated with the production, use, and retirement of products, has generated considerable interest in the use of assessment methods to better understand and address those impacts. Life-cycle assessment (LCA) is one of the techniques developed for this purpose. LCA is a structured evaluation methodology that quantifies environmental impacts over the full life cycle of a product or system, including impacts that occur throughout the supply chain. LCA provides a comprehensive approach for evaluating the total environmental burden of a product by examining all the inputs and outputs over the life cycle, from raw material production to the end-of-life (EOL). For pavements, this cycle includes the material production, design, construction, use, maintenance and rehabilitation (M&R), and EOL stages. LCA has a commonly accepted standard method (published by the International Organization for Standardization [ISO]), however, specifics within this method vary greatly from one application to another. Additionally, there are no widely accepted standards that focus on pavement-LCA. This pavement LCA framework document is an important first step in the implementation and adoption of LCA principles in the pavement community within the U.S. A framework for performing an LCA specific to pavement systems along with guidance on the overall approach, methodology, system boundaries, and current knowledge gaps are presented in this document.

Life Cycle Assessment of Pavements: Reviewing Research Challenges and Opportunities

Journal of Cleaner Production, 2016, 112(4), pp. 2187-2197, doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2015.09.080

An extensive growth in pavement life cycle assessment studies is noticed in recent years. Current literature in pavement life cycle assessment demonstrates a wide range of implications on environmental burdens associated with the pavements. However, immature parts still remain, needing further research, in the next years, in different stages of pavement life cycle assessment. Most of these papers focused on the implementation of new technologies on pavements construction, the use of recycled materials, and the investigation of various phases of the pavement life cycle rather than improving the applicability and the adequacy of life cycle assessment methodology to the pavement problems. These stages are based on ISO 14040 and 14044 frameworks: the goal and scope definition, the inventory analysis, the life cycle impact assessment and interpretation. In this paper, a comprehensive review (i.e. a critical review and research gaps investigation) of life cycle assessment studies on pavements was conducted. The presentation comprises (not an extensive list) inventory analysis such as surface roughness, noise, lighting, albedo, carbonation, and earthwork in addition to locally applicable data collection, consequential and temporal consideration of pavement life cycle, and sensitivity analysis. Addressing these inadequacies will permit enhanced pavement life cycle assessment studies. This will then be useful for policy makers, project managers, construction engineers, and other stakeholders in identifying prospective in sustainable development of the pavement sector.

Reducing Emissions at Land Border Crossings through Queue Reduction and Expedited Security Processing

Transportation Research Part D, 2016, 49, pp. 219-230, doi: 10.1016/j.trd.2016.09.006

Vehicle border crossings between Mexico and the United States generate significant amounts of air pollution, which can pose health threats to personnel at the ports of entry (POEs) as well as local communities. Using the Mariposa POE in Nogales, Arizona as a case study, light-duty and heavy-duty vehicle emissions are analyzed with the objective of identifying effective emission reduction strategies such as inspection streamlining, physical infrastructure improvements, and fuel switching. Historical vehicle volumes as well as field data were used to establish a simulation model of vehicle movement in VISSIM. Four simulation scenarios with varied congestion levels were considered to represent real-world seasonal changes in traffic volume. Four additional simulations captured varying levels of expedited processing procedures. The VISSIM output was analyzed using the EPA's MOVES emission simulation software for conventional air pollutants. For the highest congestion scenario, which includes a 200% increase in vehicle volume, total emissions increase by around 460% for PM2.5 and NOx, and 540% for CO, SO2, GHGs, and NMHC over uncongested conditions. Expedited processing and queue reduction can reduce emissions in this highest congestion scenario by as much as 16% for PM2.5, 18% for NOx, 20% for NMHC, 7% for SO2 and 15% for GHGs and CO. Adoption of some or all of these changes would not only reduce emissions at the Mariposa POE, but would have air-quality benefits for nearby populations in both the US and Mexico. Fleet-level changes could have far-reaching improvements in air quality on both sides of the border.

Worldwide Greenhouse Gas Reduction Potentials in Transportation by 2050

Journal of Industrial Ecology, 20(2), pp. 329-340, doi: 10.1111/jiec.12391

Reductions in the greenhouse gas (GHG) intensity of passenger and freight transportation are possible through adoption of fuel-saving technologies, demand switching between modes, and large-scale electrification of fleets, in addition to other actions. In this study, future scenarios to 2030 and 2050 are the basis for assessment of GHG reduction potentials for major passenger and freight modes (automobiles, buses, trains, aircraft, and oceangoing vessels) across eight regions of the world. New fuel-saving technologies can significantly reduce the life-cycle GHG footprint of both passenger and freight vehicles, but not uniformly worldwide. Countries outside of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) lag behind OECD countries in GHG reduction potentials for all modes but oceangoing vessels owing to a combination of slower adoption of fuel-saving technologies and a slower decarbonization of electricity generation and other processes. The reduction of GHG intensity will occur more slowly for freight modes than for passenger modes. However, improved fuel efficiency has negative feedbacks to the effectiveness of mode-switching and alternative fuel adoption policies through 2050 because improvements in the fuel efficiency of vehicles alone may cause the marginal benefits of GHG abatement policies to diminish over time. This trend may be reversed if alternative fuel pathways decarbonize at faster rates than conventional transportation fuels. The largest opportunities for GHG reductions occur in non-OECD countries. Given the many factors that distinguish transportation systems between developed and developing nations (e.g., availability of new technologies, the financial ability to acquire them, and policies to incentivize their adoption), many benefits could be gained through interregional cooperation.

Goods Movement Life-cycle Assessment for Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goals

Journal of Industrial Ecology, 20(2), pp. 317-328, doi: 10.1111/jiec.12277

The formation of effective policies to reduce emissions from goods movement should consider local and remote life cycle effects as well as barriers for mode shifting. Using uni- and multimodal freight movements by truck, rail, and ocean-going vessel (OGV) associated with California, a life cycle assessment (LCA) is developed to estimate the local and remote emissions that occur from freight activity inside and associated with the state. Long-run average per tonne-kilometer results show that OGVs emit the fewest emissions, followed by rail, then trucks, and that the inclusion of life cycle processes can increase impacts by up to 32% for energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and 4,200% for conventional air pollutants. Efforts to reduce emissions through mode shifting should recognize that infrastructure and market configurations may be inimical to mode substitution. A uni- and multimodal shipping emissions assessment is developed for intrastate and California-associated freight movements to illustrate the life cycle impacts of typical trips for certain types of goods. When targeting GHG reductions in California, it should be recognized that heavy-duty trucks are responsible for 99% of intrastate goods movement emissions. An assessment of future freight truck technology improvements is performed to estimate the effectiveness of strategies to meet 2050 GHG reduction goals. Whereas aggressive improvements in fuel economy coupled with alternative vehicles and fuels can significantly reduce GHG emissions, to meet 2050 goals will likely require zero carbon emission vehicle technology. The value of using LCA in GHG reduction policy for transportation systems is explored.

Spatial Differences and Costs of Emissions at U.S. Airport Hubs

Environmental Science and Technology, 2016, 50(8), pp. 4149-4158, doi: 10.1021/acs.est.5b04491

As local governments plan to expand airport infrastructure and build air service, monetized estimates of damages from air pollution are important for balancing environmental impacts. While it is well-known that aircraft emissions near airports directly affect nearby populations, it is less clear how the airport-specific aircraft operations and impacts result in monetized damages to human health and the environment. We model aircraft and ground support equipment emissions at major U.S. airports and estimate the monetized human health and environmental damages of near airport (within 60 miles) emissions. County-specific unit damage costs for PM, SOx, NOx, and VOCs and damage valuations for CO and CO2 are used along with aircraft emissions estimations at airports to determine impacts. We find that near-airport emissions at major U.S. airports caused a total of $1.9 billion in damages in 2013, with airports contributing between $720 thousand and $190 million each. These damages vary by airport from $1 to $9 per seat per one-way flight and costs per passenger are often greater than airport charges levied on airlines for infrastructure use. As the U.S. aviation system grows, it is possible to minimize human and environmental costs by shifting aircraft technologies and expanding service into airports where fewer impacts are likely to occur.

The environmental impacts and economic costs associated with passenger transportation are the result of complex interactions between people, infrastructure, urban form, and underlying activities. When it comes to roadway infrastructure, the ongoing resource commitments (which can be measured as embedded impacts) enables vehicle travel, which is a dominant source of air emissions in regional inventories. The relationship between infrastructure and the environmental impacts it enables are not often considered dynamic. Furthermore, the environmental effects of roadway infrastructure are typically assessed at a fine geospatial and temporal scale (i.e., a short distance of roadway over a short period of time) and there is generally poor knowledge of how the growth of a roadway network over time creates a need for long-term maintenance commitments that create environmental impacts and lock-in vehicle travel. A framework and operational lifecycle assessment (LCA) tool [City Road Network (CiRN) LCA] are developed to assess the extent to which roadway commitments result in ongoing and increasing environmental and economic impacts. Known for its extensive road network and automobile reliance, Los Angeles County is used as a case study to explore the relationship between historic infrastructure deployment decisions and the emergent behavior of vehicle travel. The results show that every kilogram of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions resulting from construction and maintenance has led to 27 kg of GHG emissions in fuel combustion. Similarly, every public dollar invested into the network has created $21–$46 in private user spending. As states and regions grapple with financing the upkeep of aging infrastructure, a solid understanding of the relationship between upfront infrastructure capital costs, long-term maintenance costs, and associated long-term environmental effects are critical. In Los Angeles, the infrastructure that exists was largely deployed by 1987. Since then, maintenance costs are estimated to have exceeded city budgets despite minimal growth in infrastructure. The research demonstrates how infrastructure matures (i.e., its stages of growth toward completion), it becomes locked-in, leading to transitions from a capital financing focus to foci on securing rehabilitation and maintenance costs, and the share of environmental impacts changing from being somewhat balanced between embedded infrastructure construction impacts and vehicle use to today where vehicle use creates impacts several orders of magnitude greater than those associated with rehabilitation.

Time-based Life-cycle Assessment for Environmental Policymaking: Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goals and Public Transit

Transportation Research Part D, 2016, 43, pp. 49-58, doi: 10.1016/j.trd.2015.12.003

As decision-makers increasingly embrace life-cycle assessment (LCA) and target transportation services for regional environmental goals, it becomes imperative that outcomes from changes to transportation infrastructure systems are accurately estimated. Greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction policies have created interest in better understanding how public transit systems reduce emissions. Yet the use of average emission factors (e.g., grams CO2e per distance traveled) persists as the state-of-the-art masking the variations in emissions across time, and confounding the ability to accurately estimate the environmental effects from changes to transit infrastructure and travel behavior. An LCA is developed of the Expo light rail line and a competing car trip (in Los Angeles, California) that includes vehicle, infrastructure, and energy production processes, in addition to propulsion. When results are normalized per passenger kilometer traveled (PKT), life-cycle processes increase energy use and GHG emissions up to 83%, and up to 690% for smog and respiratory impact potentials. However, the use of a time-independent PKT normalization obfuscates a decision-maker’s ability to understand whether the deployment of a transit system reduces emissions below a future year policy target (e.g., 80% of 1990 emissions by 2050). The year-by-year marginal effects of the decision to deploy the Expo line are developed including reductions in automobile travel. The time-based marginal results provide clearer explanations for how environmental effects in a region change and the critical life-cycle processes that should be targeted to achieve policy targets. It shows when environmental impacts payback and how much reduction is achieved by a policy-specified future year.

Parking Infrastructure: A Constraint on or Opportunity for Urban Redevelopment? A Study of Los Angeles County Parking Supply and Growth

Journal of the American Planning Association, 2015, 81(4), pp. 268-286 doi: 10.1080/01944363.2015.1092879

Many cities have adopted minimum parking requirements but we have relatively poor information about how parking infrastructure has grown. We estimate how parking has grown in Los Angeles County from 1900 to 2010 and how parking infrastructure evolves, affects urban form, and relates to changes in automobile travel, using building and roadway growth models. We find that since 1975 the ratio of residential offstreet parking spaces to automobiles in Los Angeles County is close to 1.0 and the greatest density of parking spaces is in the urban core while most new growth in parking occurs outside of the core. 14% of incorporated land in Los Angeles County is committed to parking. Uncertainty in our space inventory is attributed to our building growth model, onstreet space length, and the assumption that parking spaces were created as per the requirements. The continued use of minimum parking requirements is likely to encourage automobile use at a time when metropolitan areas are actively seeking to manage congestion and increase transit use, biking, and walking. Widely discussed ways to reform parking policies may be less than effective if planners do not consider the remaining incentives to auto use created by the existing parking infrastructure. Planners should encourage the conversion of existing parking facilities to alternative uses.

Cost-effectiveness of Reductions in Greenhouse Gas Emissions from High-speed Rail and Urban Transportation Projects in California

Transportation Research Part D, 2015, 40, pp. 104-113, doi: 10.1016/j.trd.2015.08.008

As California establishes its greenhouse gas emissions cap-and-trade program and considers options for using the new revenues produced under the program, the public and decision-makers have access to tenuous information on the relative cost-effectiveness of passenger transportation investment options. Towards closing this knowledge gap, the cost-effectiveness of greenhouse gas reductions forecast from High-Speed Rail are compared with those estimated from recent urban transportation projects (specifically light rail, bus rapid transit, and a bicycling/pedestrian pathway) in California. Life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions are joined with full cost accounting to better understand the benefits of cap-and-trade investments. Results are largely dependent on the economic cost allocation method used. Considering only public subsidy for capital, none of the projects appear to be a cost-effective means to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (i.e., relative to the current price of greenhouse gas emissions in California’s cap-and-trade program at $11.50 per tonne). However, after adjusting for the change in private costs users incur when switching from the counterfactual mode (automobile or aircraft) to the mode enabled by the project, all investments appear to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at a net savings to the public. Policy and decision-makers who consider only the capital cost of new transportation projects can be expected to incorrectly assess alternatives and indirect benefits (i.e., how travelers adapt to the new mass transit alternative) should be included in decision-making processes.

Policymaking Should Consider the Time-dependent Greenhouse Gas Benefits of Transit-oriented Smart Growth

Transportation Research Record, 2015, 2502, pp. 53-61, doi: 10.3141/2502-07

Cities are developing greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation plans and reduction targets on the basis of a growing body of knowledge about climate change risks, and changes to passenger transportation are often at the center of these efforts. Yet little information exists for characterizing how quickly or slowly GHG emissions reductions will accrue given changes in urban form around transit and whether benefits will accrue quickly enough to meet policy year targets (such as reaching 20% of 1990 GHG emissions levels by 2050). Achieving GHG reductions through integrated transportation and land use planning is even more complicated for cities because changes in emissions can occur across many sectors (such as transportation, building energy use, and electricity generation). With the use of the Los Angeles, California, Expo Line, a framework was developed to assess how financing schemes could affect the rate of building redevelopment and resulting life-cycle GHG emissions from travel and building energy use. The framework leveraged an integrated transportation and land use life-cycle assessment model that captured upfront construction of new development near transit and the long-term changes in household energy use for travel and buildings. The results show that for the same amount of development around the Expo Line, it is possible either to meet state GHG goals by 2050 (if aggressive redevelopment happens early) or not meet those goals by 2050 (if significant redevelopment does not start for decades). The time-based approach reveals how redevelopment schedules should be considered when strategies for meeting future GHG emissions targets are set.

Frameworks for Assessing the Vulnerability of U.S. Rail Systems to Flooding and Extreme Heat

Arizona State University Report No. ASU-SSEBE-CESEM-2015-RPR-001

Recent climatic trends show more flooding and extreme heat events and in the future transportation infrastructure may be susceptible to more frequent and intense environmental perturbations. Our transportation systems have largely been designed to withstand historical weather events, for example, floods that occur at an intensity that is experience once every 100 years, and there is evidence that these events are expected become more frequent. There are increasing efforts to better understand the impacts of climate change on transportation infrastructure. An abundance of new research is emerging to study various aspects of climate change on transportation systems. Much of this research is focused on roadway networks and reliable automobile travel. We explore how flooding and extreme heat might impact passenger rail systems in the Northeast and Southwest U.S..

Improving the Accuracy of Vehicle Emissions Profiles for Urban Transportation Greenhouse Gas and Air Pollution Inventories

Environmental Science and Technology, 49(1), pp 369-376, doi: 10.1021/es5023575

Metropolitan greenhouse gas and air emissions inventories can better account for the variability in vehicle movement, fleet composition, and infrastructure that exists within and between regions, to develop more accurate information for environmental goals. With emerging access to high quality data, new methods are needed for informing transportation emissions assessment practitioners of the relevant vehicle and infrastructure characteristics that should be prioritized in modeling to improve the accuracy of inventories. The sensitivity of light and heavy-duty vehicle greenhouse gas (GHG) and conventional air pollutant (CAP) emissions to speed, weight, age, and roadway gradient are examined with second-by-second velocity profiles on freeway and arterial roads under free-flow and congestion scenarios. For GHG and CAP upper and lower bounds of each factor show the potential variability which could exist in emissions assessments across U.S. cities. When comparing the effects of changes in these characteristics across U.S. cities against average characteristics of the U.S. fleet and infrastructure, significant variability in emissions is found to exist. GHGs from light-duty vehicles could vary by -2%-11% and CAP by -47%-228% when compared to the baseline. For heavy-duty vehicles the variability is -21%-55% and -32%-174%, respectively. The results show that cities should more aggressively pursue the integration of emerging big data into regional transportation emissions modeling, and the integration of these data is likely to impact GHG and CAP inventories and how aggressively policies should be implemented to meet reductions. A web-tool (available at is developed to aide cities in improving emissions uncertainty.

The Importance of the Use Phase on the LCA of Environmentally Friendly Solutions for Asphalt Road Pavements

Transportation Part D, 32, pp. 97-110, doi: 10.1016/j.trd.2014.07.006

In order to assess sustainability of products and processes, different methodologies have been developed and used in the last years. In the road pavement construction area, most methodologies used for Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) are essentially focused in the construction phase. The present paper analyses the importance of the use phase of a road in the LCA of different paving alternatives, namely by evaluating energy consumption and gaseous emissions throughout the road pavement’s life. Therefore, a new LCA methodology for road pavements was developed, and the results of its application to a case study involving the construction of alternative pavement structures are discussed. The study intends to assess the influence of using more sustainable paving construction alternatives (asphalt recycling vs. conventional asphalt mixtures), and/or different surface course materials (which have a higher influence on the rolling resistance and, therefore, affect the performance during the use phase). The LCA results obtained for this case study showed that the reductions in energy consumption and gaseous emissions obtained during the use phase, for pavement alternatives with a lower rolling resistance surface course, are higher than the total amount of energy consumption and gas emissions produced during construction. It is therefore clear that some improvements in the characteristics of the surface course may have an effect over the road use phase that will rapidly balance the initial costs and gas emissions of those interventions. The LCA results obtained also showed that the sustainability of pavement construction may also be improved using recycled asphalt mixtures.

Transit-oriented Smart Growth Can Reduce Life-cycle Environmental Impacts and Household Costs in Los Angeles

Transport Policy, 2014, 35, pp.21-30, doi: 10.1016/j.tranpol.2014.05.004

The environmental and economic assessment of neighborhood-scale transit-oriented urban form changes should include initial construction impacts through long-term use to fully understand the benefits and costs of smart growth policies. The long-term impacts of moving people closer to transit require the coupling of behavioral forecasting with environmental assessment. Using new light rail and bus rapid transit in Los Angeles, California as a case study, a life-cycle environmental and economic assessment is developed to assess the potential range of impacts resulting from mixed-use infill development. An integrated transportation and land use life-cycle assessment framework is developed to estimate energy consumption, air emissions, and economic (public, developer, and user) costs. Residential and commercial buildings, automobile travel, and transit operation changes are included and a 60-year forecast is developed that compares transit-oriented growth against growth in areas without close access to high-capacity transit service. The results show that commercial developments create the greatest potential for impact reductions followed by residential commute shifts to transit, both of which may be effected by access to high-capacity transit, reduced parking requirements, and developer incentives. Greenhouse gas emission reductions up to 470 Gg CO2-equivalents per year can be achieved with potential costs savings for TOD users. The potential for respiratory impacts (PM10-equivalents) and smog formation can be reduced by 28–35%. The shift from business-as-usual growth to transit-oriented development can decrease user costs by $3100 per household per year over the building lifetime, despite higher rental costs within the mixed-use development.

A methodology is developed that integrates institutional analysis with Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to identify and overcome barriers to sustainability transitions and to bridge the gap between environmental practitioners and decisionmakers. LCA results are rarely joined with analyses of the social systems that control or influence decisionmaking and policies. As a result, LCA conclusions generally lack information about who or what controls different parts of the system, where and when the processes' environmental decisionmaking happens, and what aspects of the system (i.e. a policy or regulatory requirement) would have to change to enable lower environmental impact futures. The value of the combined institutional analysis and LCA (the IA-LCA) is demonstrated using a case study of passenger transportation in the Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan area. A retrospective LCA is developed to estimate how roadway investment has enabled personal vehicle travel and its associated energy, environmental, and economic effects. Using regional travel forecasts, a prospective life cycle inventory is developed. Alternative trajectories are modeled to reveal future "savings" from reduced roadway construction and vehicle travel. An institutional analysis matches the LCA results with the specific institutions, players, and policies that should be targeted to enable transitions to these alternative futures. The results show that energy, economic, and environmental benefits from changes in passenger transportation systems are possible, but vary significantly depending on the timing of the interventions. Transition strategies aimed at the most optimistic benefits should include 1) significant land-use planning initiatives at the local and regional level to incentivize transit-oriented development infill and urban densification, 2) changes to state or federal gasoline taxes, 3) enacting a price on carbon, and 4) nearly doubling vehicle fuel efficiency together with greater market penetration of alternative fuel vehicles. This aggressive trajectory could decrease the 2050 energy consumption to 1995 levels, greenhouse gas emissions to 1995, particulate emissions to 2006, and smog-forming emissions to 1972. The potential benefits and costs are both private and public, and the results vary when transition strategies are applied in different spatial and temporal patterns.

Growth of the Los Angeles Roadway Network

A project to assess the growth of transportation infrastructure in Los Angeles and its drivers

We model the deployment of roadway infrastructure in Los Angeles County. Presented below is an animation of the deployment of the Los Angeles Roadway network, from 1990 to present. The work is published: A Fraser and M Chester, Environmental and Economic Consequences of Permanent Roadway Infrastructure Commitment: City Road Network Life-cycle Assessment and Los Angeles County, ASCE Journal of Infrastructure Systems, 2016, 22(1), doi: 10.1061/(ASCE)IS.1943-555X.0000271.

Grand Challenges for High-speed Rail Environmental Assessment in the United States

Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, 2014, 61, 15-26, doi: 10.1016/j.tra.2013.12.007

The comprehensiveness of environmental assessments of future long-distance travel that include high-speed rail (HSR) are constrained by several methodological, institutional, and knowledge gaps that must and can be addressed. These gaps preclude a robust understanding of the changes in environmental, human health, resource, and climate change impacts that result from the implementation of HSR in the United States. The gaps are also inimical to an understanding of how HSR can be positioned for 21st century sustainability goals. Through a synthesis of environmental studies, the gaps are grouped into five overarching grand challenges. They include a spatial incompatibility between HSR and other long-distance modes that is often ignored, an environmental review process that obviates modal alternatives, siloed interest in particular environmental impacts, a dearth of data on future vehicle and energy sources, and a poor understanding of secondary impacts, particularly in land use. Recommendations are developed for institutional investment in multimodal research, knowledge and method building around several topics. Ultimately, the environmental assessment of HSR should be integrated in assessments that seek to understand the complementary and competitive configurations of transportation services, as well as future accessibility.

Growth of the Phoenix Roadway Network

A project to assess the growth of transportation infrastructure in Phoenix and its drivers

The growth of the Phoenix roadway network developed through a combined roadway link and travel analysis zone statistical assessment of building ages. Infrastructure has been constructed ahead of and in concert with sprawling edge growth. Half of the current roadways were constructed after 1979 at the edges of the urbanized area (i.e., the 101, 202, and 303 loops).

Life-cycle Assessment for Construction of Sustainable Infrastructure

ASCE Practice Periodical on Structural Design and Construction, 2014, 19(1), 89-94, doi: 10.1061/(ASCE)SC.1943-5576.0000187

The architecture-engineering-construction (AEC) industry faces increasing demands on its projects while budgets appear to be shrinking. Building owners and operators seem to want their buildings to do more for less cost. Although this may seem counterintuitive, it aligns nicely with a sustainable-architecture approach of less is more. Moreover, in a shift from exclusively considering first costs for a project, the AEC industry seems to be moving in the direction of life-cycle cost considerations, furthering the opportunity for a more sustainable built environment. Often sustainable is synonymous with achieving certification [e.g., Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and Infrastructure Voluntary Evaluation Sustainability Tool (INVEST) certification]. Whereas the authors acknowledge that certification can improve particular aspects of sustainability, it is necessary to take a broader approach and consider economic, environmental, and social dimensions of sustainability. In this paper, the authors explore each of these dimensions and present examples of how the AEC industry can measure, balance, and monetize them.

Hybrid Life Cycle Assessment for Asphalt Mixtures with High RAP Content

Resources, Conservation, and Recycling, 83, pp. 77-86, doi: 10.1016/j.resconrec.2013.12.004

With the pavement industry adopting sustainable practices to align itself with the global notion of habitable environments, there has been growing use of life-cycle assessment (LCA). A hybrid LCA was used to analyze the environmental footprint of using a reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP) content in asphalt binder mixtures. The analysis took into consideration the material, construction, and maintenance and rehabilitation phases of the pavement life cycle. The results showed significant reductions in energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions with an increase in RAP content. The contribution of the construction phase to the GHGs and energy consumption throughout pavement life cycle is minimal. Feedstock energy, though not consequential when comparing asphalt mixtures only, has a significant impact on total energy. Based on LCA analysis performed for various performance scenarios, breakeven performance levels were identified for mixtures with RAP. The study highlighted the importance of achieving equivalent field performance for mixtures with RAP and virgin mixtures.

Assessing the Potential for Reducing Life-Cycle Environmental Impacts through Transit-Oriented Development Infill along Existing Light Rail in Phoenix

Journal of Planning, Education, and Research, 2013, 33(4), 395-410, doi: 10.1177/0739456X13507485

There is significant interest in reducing urban growth impacts yet little information exists to comprehensively estimate the energy and air quality tradeoffs. An integrated transportation and land-use life-cycle assessment framework is developed to quantify the long-term impacts from residential infill, using the Phoenix light rail system as a case study. The results show that (1) significant reductions in life-cycle energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, respiratory, and smog impacts are possible; (2) building construction, vehicle manufacturing, and energy feedstock effects are significant; and (3) marginal benefits from reduced automobile use and potential household behavior changes exceed marginal costs from new rail service.

Integrating Life-cycle Environmental and Economic Assessment with Transportation and Land Use Planning

Environmental Science and Technology, 2013, 47(21), 12020-12028, doi: 10.1021/es402985g

The environmental outcomes of urban form changes should couple life-cycle and behavioral assessment methods to better understand urban sustainability policy outcomes. Using Phoenix, Arizona light rail as a case study, an integrated transportation and land use life-cycle assessment (itlulca) framework is developed to assess the changes to energy consumption and air emissions from transit-oriented neighborhood designs. Residential travel, commercial travel, and building energy use are included and the framework integrates household behavior change assessment to explore the environmental and economic outcomes of policies that affect infrastructure. The results show that upfront environmental and economic investments are needed (through more energy-intense building materials for high-density structures) to produce long run benefits in reduced building energy use and automobile travel. The annualized life-cycle benefits of transit-oriented developments in Phoenix can range from 1.7 to 230 Gg CO2e depending on the aggressiveness of residential density. Midpoint impact stressors for respiratory effects and photochemical smog formation are also assessed and can be reduced by 1.2–170 Mg PM10e and 41–5200 Mg O3e annually. These benefits will come at an additional construction cost of up to $410 million resulting in a cost of avoided CO2e at $16–29 and household cost savings.

The environmental life cycle assessment of electric rail public transit modes requires an assessment of electricity generation mixes. The provision of electricity to a region does not usually adhere to geopolitical boundaries. Electricity is governed based on lowest cost marginal dispatch and reliability principles. Additionally, there are times when a public transit agency may purchase wholesale electricity from a particular service provider. Such is the case with electric rail modes in the San Francisco Bay Area. An environmental life cycle assessment of San Francisco Bay Area public transit systems was developed by Chester and Horvath (2009) and includes vehicle manufacturing/maintenance, infrastructure construction/operation/maintenance, energy production, and supply chains, in addition to vehicle propulsion. For electric rail modes, vehicle propulsion was based on an average electricity mix for the region. Since 2009, new electricity contract information and renewable electricity goals have been established. As such, updated life cycle results should be produced. Using recent wholesale electricity mix and renewable electricity goal data from the transit agencies, updated electricity precombustion, generation, transmission, and distribution environmental impacts of vehicle propulsion are estimated. In summary, SFMTA Muni light rail is currently purchasing 100% hydro electricity from the Hetch Hetchy region of California and the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system is purchasing 22% natural gas, 9% coal, 2% nuclear, 66% hydro, and 1% other renewables from the Pacific Northwest . Furthermore, the BART system has set a goal of 20% renewables by 2016. Using the GREET1 2012 electricity pathway, a life cycle assessment of wholesale and renewable electricity generation for these systems is calculated.

Urban sustainability decision makers should incorporate time-based impacts of greenhouse gas emissions with life cycle assessment to improve climate change mitigation strategies. As cities develop strategies that move development closer to transit systems and encourage households to live in lower energy configurations, new methods are needed for understanding how upfront emissions of greenhouse gases produce long run radiative forcing impacts. Using an existing assessment of the development potential around Phoenix’s new light rail system, a framework is developed for deploying higher density, lower energy use, and more transit-friendly households near light rail given financing constraints. The case study compares development around transit stations in Phoenix against continued outward growth of single family homes. Using this case study, the significance of greenhouse gas (GHG) radiative forcing discounting is assessed. The radiative forcing benefits of different levels of financing aggressiveness are shown. A comparison of payback on upfront construction impacts for long run benefits is developed between the GHG accounting approach and the radiative forcing approach, the latter of which accounts for time-based GHG impacts. The results show that the radiative forcing approach puts more weight on upfront construction impacts and pushes the payback on initial investments out further than when GHG accounting is used. It is possible to reduce this payback time by providing a larger upfront financing resource. Ultimately, policy and decision makers should use radiative forcing measures over GHG measures because it will provide a measure that discounts GHG emissions at different times to a normalized unit.

Environmental Assessment of Air and High-Speed Rail Corridors

Transportation Research Board Airport Cooperative Research Program Synthesis 43

There is significant experience and research on the competition and complementarity of air and high-speed rail (HSR) modes. In synthesizing the body of literature, reviewers focused on government-driven environmental comparisons and academic literature. Both government environmental reviews and academic studies have provided valuable insight into comparative assessments of air and HSR systems; however, institutional mechanisms coupled with methodological advances and tool development are needed to ensure that future long-distance transportation systems are deployed in ways that minimize impacts while improving mobility.

Infrastructure and Automobile Shifts: Positioning Transit to Reduce Life-cycle Environmental Impacts for Urban Sustainability Goals

Environmental Research Letters, 2013, 8(1), 015041, doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/8/1/015041

Public transportation systems are often part of strategies to reduce urban environmental impacts from passenger transportation yet comprehensive energy and environmental life-cycle measures, including upfront infrastructure effects and indirect and supply chain processes, are rarely considered. Using the new bus rapid transit and light rail lines in Los Angeles, near-term and long-term life-cycle impact assessments are developed, including reduced automobile travel. Energy consumption and emissions of greenhouse gases and criteria pollutants are assessed, as well the potential for smog and respiratory impacts. Results show that life-cycle infrastructure, vehicle, and energy production components significantly increase the footprint of each mode (by 48-100% for energy and greenhouse gases, and up to 6200% for environmental impacts), and emerging technologies and renewable electricity standards will significantly reduce impacts. Life-cycle results are identified as either local (in Los Angeles) or remote and show how the decision to build and operate a transit system in a city produces environmental impacts far outside of geopolitical boundaries. Ensuring shifts of between 20-30% of transit riders from automobiles will result in passenger transportation greenhouse gas reductions for the city, and the larger the shift the quicker the payback, which should be considered for time-specific environmental goals.

Comparative Environmental Life Cycle Assessment of Conventional and Electric Vehicles

Journal of Industrial Ecology, 2013, 17(1), pp.53-64, doi: 10.1111/j.1530-9290.2012.00532.x

Electric vehicles (EVs) coupled with low-carbon electricity sources offer the potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and exposure to tailpipe emissions from personal transportation. In considering these benefits, it is important to address concerns of problem-shifting. In addition, while many studies have focused on the use phase in comparing transportation options, vehicle production is also significant when comparing conventional and EVs. We develop and provide a transparent life cycle inventory of conventional and electric vehicles and apply our inventory to assess conventional and EVs over a range of impact categories. We find that EVs powered by the present European electricity mix offer a 10% to 24% decrease in global warming potential (GWP) relative to conventional diesel or gasoline vehicles assuming lifetimes of 150,000 km. However, EVs exhibit the potential for significant increases in human toxicity, freshwater eco-toxicity, freshwater eutrophication, and metal depletion impacts, largely emanating from the vehicle supply chain. Results are sensitive to assumptions regarding electricity source, use phase energy consumption, vehicle lifetime, and battery replacement schedules. Because production impacts are more significant for EVs than conventional vehicles, assuming a vehicle lifetime of 200,000 km exaggerates the GWP benefits of EVs to 27% to 29% relative to gasoline vehicles or 17% to 20% relative to diesel. An assumption of 100,000 km decreases the benefit of EVs to 9% to 14% with respect to gasoline vehicles and results in impacts indistinguishable from those of a diesel vehicle. Improving the environmental profile of EVs requires engagement around reducing vehicle production supply chain impacts and promoting clean electricity sources in decision making regarding electricity infrastructure.

Getting the Most Out of Electric Vehicle Subsidies

Issues in Science and Technology 28(4), Summer 2012

The electrification of passenger vehicles has the potential to address three of the most critical challenges of our time: Plug-in vehicles may produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions when powered by electricity instead of gasoline, depending on the electricity source; reduce and displace tailpipe emissions, which affect people and the environment; and reduce gasoline consumption, helping to diminish dependence on imported oil and diversify transportation energy sources. When all costs are added up, we find thousands of dollars of damages per vehicle (gasoline or electric) that are paid by the overall population rather than only by those releasing the emissions and consuming the oil. These costs are substantial. But, importantly, the potential of plug-in vehicles to reduce these costs is modest: much lower than the $7,500 tax credit and small compared to ownership costs. This is because the damages caused over the life cycle of a vehicle are caused not only by gasoline consumption, which is reduced with plug-in vehicles, but also by emissions from battery and electricity production, which are increased with plug-in vehicles.

High-speed Rail with Emerging Automobiles and Aircraft Can Reduce Environmental Impacts in California's Future

Environmental Research Letters, 2012, 7(3), 034012, doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/7/3/034012

Sustainable mobility policy for long-distance transportation services should consider emerging automobiles and aircraft as well as infrastructure and supply chain life-cycle effects in the assessment of new high-speed rail systems. Using the California corridor, future automobiles, high-speed rail and aircraft long-distance travel are evaluated, considering emerging fuel-efficient vehicles, new train designs and the possibility that the region will meet renewable electricity goals. An attributional per passenger-kilometer-traveled life-cycle inventory is first developed including vehicle, infrastructure and energy production components. A consequential life-cycle impact assessment is then established to evaluate existing infrastructure expansion against the construction of a new high-speed rail system. The results show that when using the life-cycle assessment framework, greenhouse gas footprints increase significantly and human health and environmental damage potentials may be dominated by indirect and supply chain components. The environmental payback is most sensitive to the number of automobile trip takers shifted to high-speed rail and for greenhouse gases is likely to occur in 20–30 years. A high-speed rail system that is deployed with state-of-the-art trains, electricity that has met renewable goals, and in a configuration that endorses high ridership will provide significant environmental benefits over existing modes. Opportunities exist for reducing the long-distance transportation footprint by incentivizing large automobile trip shifts, meeting clean electricity goals and reducing material production effects.

Costs of Automobile Air Emissions in U.S. Metropolitan Areas

Transportation Research Record (TRR), 2011, 2233, pp.120-127, doi: 10.3141/2233-14

Automobile air emissions are a well recognized problem and have been subject to considerable regulation. An increasing concern for greenhouse gas emissions draws additional considerations to the externalities of personal vehicle travel. In this paper, we estimate automobile air emission costs for eighty-six U.S. metropolitan areas based on county-specific external air emission morbidity, mortality, and environmental costs. Total air emission costs in the urban areas are estimated to be $145 million/day, with Los Angeles and New York (each $23 million/day) having the highest totals. These external costs average $0.64/day/person and $0.03/vehicle mile traveled. Total air emission cost solely due to traffic congestion for the same eight-six U.S. metropolitan areas was also estimated to be $24 million/day. We compare our estimates with others found in the literature and find them to be generally consistent. These external automobile air emission costs are important for social benefit and cost assessment of transportation measures to reduce vehicle use. However, this study does not include any abatement costs associated with automobile emission controls or government investments to reduce emissions such as traffic signal setting.

Parking Infrastructure and the Environment

Access Magazine 39, Fall 2011

California is planning to spend $40 billion to build a high speed rail system from San Diego to Sacramento. Advocates argue that high speed rail will save money and improve the environment, while critics claim it will waste money and harm the environment. What accounts for these diametrically opposed views about a technology that has been operating in other countries for decades? And what can transportation analysts offer to inform the debate? Disagreements about the cost and environmental impacts of high speed rail can arise when analysts examine only the most direct effects of the rail system, and compare those to only the direct effects of road and air travel—-the two transportation modes from which high speed rail will likely draw passengers. But transportation energy use and emissions result not only from the direct effects of operating the vehicles but also from indirect effects, such as building the infrastructure, producing the fuels, manufacturing the vehicles, maintaining the system, and disposing of materials at the end of their lives. The full range of emissions from automobile travel, for example, includes not only tailpipe emissions but also the emissions created by building roads and parking garages, manufacturing cars, extracting and refining petroleum, and, finally, wrecking yards and tire dumps. One approach to environmental and cost-benefit analysis that takes both these direct and indirect effects into account is life-cycle assessment. In this article we use life-cycle assessment to compare the energy use and pollution emissions of high speed rail and its competing modes.

Are Plug-in Vehicles Worth the Cost?

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), 2011, 108(40), doi: 10.1073/pnas.1104473108

California is planning to spend $40 billion to build a high speed rail system from San Diego to Sacramento. Advocates argue that high speed rail will save money and improve the environment, while critics claim it will waste money and harm the environment. What accounts for these diametrically opposed views about a technology that has been operating in other countries for decades? And what can transportation analysts offer to inform the debate? Disagreements about the cost and environmental impacts of high speed rail can arise when analysts examine only the most direct effects of the rail system, and compare those to only the direct effects of road and air travel—-the two transportation modes from which high speed rail will likely draw passengers. But transportation energy use and emissions result not only from the direct effects of operating the vehicles but also from indirect effects, such as building the infrastructure, producing the fuels, manufacturing the vehicles, maintaining the system, and disposing of materials at the end of their lives. The full range of emissions from automobile travel, for example, includes not only tailpipe emissions but also the emissions created by building roads and parking garages, manufacturing cars, extracting and refining petroleum, and, finally, wrecking yards and tire dumps. One approach to environmental and cost-benefit analysis that takes both these direct and indirect effects into account is life-cycle assessment. In this article we use life-cycle assessment to compare the energy use and pollution emissions of high speed rail and its competing modes.

Life-Cycle Assessments of Pavements. Part I: Critical Review

Resources, Conservation, and Recycling, 55(9-10) pp. 801-809, doi: 10.1016/j.resconrec.2011.03.010

The rapidly expanding set of pavement life-cycle assessments (LCAs) available in the literature represents the growing interest in improving the sustainability of this critical infrastructure system. The existing literature establishes a foundational framework for quantifying environmental impact, but fails to deliver global conclusions regarding materials choices, maintenance strategies, design lives, and other best-practice policies for achieving sustainability goals. In order to comprehensively quantify environmental footprints and effectively guide sustainability efforts, functional units need to be standardized, systems boundaries expanded, data quality and reliability improved, and study scopes broadened. Improving these deficiencies will allow future studies to perform equitable and comparable assessments, thus creating a synergistic set of literature that continuously builds upon itself rather than generates independent and isolated conclusions. These improvements will place the body of pavement LCA research in a better position to confidently lead private industry and government agencies on successful paths towards sustainability goals.

California is planning to spend $40 billion to build a high speed rail system from San Diego to Sacramento. Advocates argue that high speed rail will save money and improve the environment, while critics claim it will waste money and harm the environment. What accounts for these diametrically opposed views about a technology that has been operating in other countries for decades? And what can transportation analysts offer to inform the debate? Disagreements about the cost and environmental impacts of high speed rail can arise when analysts examine only the most direct effects of the rail system, and compare those to only the direct effects of road and air travel—-the two transportation modes from which high speed rail will likely draw passengers. But transportation energy use and emissions result not only from the direct effects of operating the vehicles but also from indirect effects, such as building the infrastructure, producing the fuels, manufacturing the vehicles, maintaining the system, and disposing of materials at the end of their lives. The full range of emissions from automobile travel, for example, includes not only tailpipe emissions but also the emissions created by building roads and parking garages, manufacturing cars, extracting and refining petroleum, and, finally, wrecking yards and tire dumps. One approach to environmental and cost-benefit analysis that takes both these direct and indirect effects into account is life-cycle assessment. In this article we use life-cycle assessment to compare the energy use and pollution emissions of high speed rail and its competing modes.

Parking Infrastructure: Energy, Emissions, and Automobile Life-cycle Environmental Accounting

Environmental Research Letters, 2010, 5(3), doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/5/3/034001

The US parking infrastructure is vast and little is known about its scale and environmental impacts. The few parking space inventories that exist are typically regionalized and no known environmental assessment has been performed to determine the energy and emissions from providing this infrastructure. A better understanding of the scale of US parking is necessary to properly value the total costs of automobile travel. Energy and emissions from constructing and maintaining the parking infrastructure should be considered when assessing the total human health and environmental impacts of vehicle travel. We develop five parking space inventory scenarios and from these estimate the range of infrastructure provided in the US to be between 105 million and 2 billion spaces. Using these estimates, a life-cycle environmental inventory is performed to capture the energy consumption and emissions of greenhouse gases, CO, SO2, NOX, VOC (volatile organic compounds), and PM10 (PM: particulate matter) from raw material extraction, transport, asphalt and concrete production, and placement (including direct, indirect, and supply chain processes) of space construction and maintenance. The environmental assessment is then evaluated within the life-cycle performance of sedans, SUVs (sports utility vehicles), and pickups. Depending on the scenario and vehicle type, the inclusion of parking within the overall life-cycle inventory increases energy consumption from 3.1 to 4.8 MJ by 0.1–0.3 MJ and greenhouse gas emissions from 230 to 380 g CO2e by 6–23 g CO2e per passenger kilometer traveled. Life-cycle automobile SO2 and PM10 emissions show some of the largest increases, by as much as 24% and 89% from the baseline inventory. The environmental consequences of providing the parking spaces are discussed as well as the uncertainty in allocating paved area between parking and roadways.

Life-cycle Assessment of High-Speed Rail: the Case of California

Environmental Research Letters, 2010, 5(1), doi: doi:10.1088/1748-9326/5/1/014003

The state of California is expected to have significant population growth in the next half-century resulting in additional passenger transportation demand. Planning for a high-speed rail system connecting San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Sacramento as well as many population centers between is now underway. The considerable investment in California high-speed rail has been debated for some time and now includes the energy and environmental tradeoffs. The per-trip energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and other emissions are often compared against the alternatives (automobiles, heavy rail, and aircraft), but typically only considering vehicle operation. An environmental life-cycle assessment of the four modes was created to compare both direct effects of vehicle operation and indirect effects from vehicle, infrastructure, and fuel components. Energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and SO2, CO, NOX, VOC, and PM10 emissions were evaluated. The energy and emission intensities of each mode were normalized per passenger kilometer traveled by using high and low occupancies to illustrate the range in modal environmental performance at potential ridership levels. While high-speed rail has the potential to be the lowest energy consumer and greenhouse gas emitter, appropriate planning and continued investment would be needed to ensure sustained high occupancy. The time to environmental payback is discussed highlighting the ridership conditions where high-speed rail will or will not produce fewer environmental burdens than existing modes. Furthermore, environmental tradeoffs may occur. High-speed rail may lower energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions per trip but can create more SO2 emissions (given the current electricity mix) leading to environmental acidification and human health issues. The significance of life-cycle inventorying is discussed as well as the potential of increasing occupancy on mass transit modes.

Comparison of Life-cycle Energy and Emissions Footprints of Passenger Transportation in Metropolitan Regions

Atmospheric Environment, 2010, 44(8), pp. 1071-1079, doi: 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2009.12.012

A comparative life-cycle energy and emissions (greenhouse gas, CO, NOX, SO2, PM10, and VOCs) inventory is created for three U.S. metropolitan regions (San Francisco, Chicago, and New York City). The inventory captures both vehicle operation (direct fuel or electricity consumption) and non-operation components (e.g., vehicle manufacturing, roadway maintenance, infrastructure operation, and material production among others). While urban transportation inventories have been continually improved, little information exists identifying the particular characteristics of metropolitan passenger transportation and why one region may differ from the next. Using travel surveys and recently developed transportation life-cycle inventories, metropolitan inventories are constructed and compared. Automobiles dominate total regional performance accounting for 86–96% of energy consumption and emissions. Comparing system-wide averages, New York City shows the lowest end-use energy and greenhouse gas footprint compared to San Francisco and Chicago and is influenced by the larger share of transit ridership. While automobile fuel combustion is a large component of emissions, diesel rail, electric rail, and ferry service can also have strong contributions. Additionally, the inclusion of life-cycle processes necessary for any transportation mode results in significant increases (as large as 20 times that of vehicle operation) for the region. In particular, emissions of CO2 from cement production used in concrete throughout infrastructure, SO2 from electricity generation in non-operational components (vehicle manufacturing, electricity for infrastructure materials, and fuel refining), PM10 in fugitive dust releases in roadway construction, and VOCs from asphalt result in significant additional inventory. Private and public transportation are disaggregated as well as off-peak and peak travel times. Furthermore, emissions are joined with healthcare and greenhouse gas monetized externalities to evaluate the societal costs of passenger transportation in each region. Results are validated against existing studies. The dominating contribution of automobile end-use energy consumption and emissions is discussed and strategies for improving regional performance given private travel's disproportionate share are identified.

Environmental Assessment of Passenger Transportation Should Include Infrastructure and Supply Chains

Environmental Research Letters, 2009, 4(2), doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/4/2/024008

To appropriately mitigate environmental impacts from transportation, it is necessary for decision makers to consider the life-cycle energy use and emissions. Most current decision-making relies on analysis at the tailpipe, ignoring vehicle production, infrastructure provision, and fuel production required for support. We present results of a comprehensive life-cycle energy, greenhouse gas emissions, and selected criteria air pollutant emissions inventory for automobiles, buses, trains, and airplanes in the US, including vehicles, infrastructure, fuel production, and supply chains. We find that total life-cycle energy inputs and greenhouse gas emissions contribute an additional 63% for onroad, 155% for rail, and 31% for air systems over vehicle tailpipe operation. Inventorying criteria air pollutants shows that vehicle non-operational components often dominate total emissions. Life-cycle criteria air pollutant emissions are between 1.1 and 800 times larger than vehicle operation. Ranges in passenger occupancy can easily change the relative performance of modes.

The development of life-cycle energy and emissions factors for passenger transportation modes is critical for understanding the total environmental costs of travel. Previous life-cycle studies have focused on the automobile given its dominating share of passenger travel and have included only few life-cycle components, typically related to the vehicle (i.e., manufacturing, maintenance, end-of-life) or fuel (i.e., extraction, refining, transport). Chester (2009) provides the first comprehensive environmental life-cycle assessment of not only vehicle and fuel components but also infrastructure components for automobiles, buses, commuter rail systems, and aircraft. Many processes were included for vehicles (manufacturing, active operation, inactive operation, maintenance, insurance), infrastructure (construction, operation, maintenance, parking, insurance), and fuels (production, distribution) in Chester (2009). The vehicles inventoried were sedans, pickups, SUVs, urban diesel buses, light rail (San Francisco’s Muni Metro and Boston’s Green Line, both electric), heavy rail (San Francisco Bay Area’s BART and Caltrain), and aircraft (small, medium, and large-sized planes are disaggregated). Given the methodological framework in Chester (2009), the question of applicability of these systems to other U.S. modes, and the data availability of other modes, is extended in this study to motorcycles, light duty diesel vehicles, school buses, electric buses, Chicago commuter rail modes, and New York City commuter rail modes.

Energy use and emission factors for passenger transportation modes typically ignore the total environmental inventory which includes vehicle non-operational components (e.g., vehicle manufacturing and maintenance), infrastructure components, and fuel production components from design through end-of-life processes. A life-cycle inventory for each mode is necessary to appropriately address and attribute the transportation sector’s energy and emissions impacts to reduction goals instead of allowing tailpipe emissions to act as indicators of total system performance.

Evaluation of Life-Cycle Air Emission Factors of Freight Transportation

Environmental Science and Technology, 2007, 41 (20), pp 7138–7144 doi: 10.1021/es070989q

Life-cycle air emission factors associated with road, rail, and air transportation of freight in the United States are analyzed. All life-cycle phases of vehicles, infrastructure, and fuels are accounted for in a hybrid life-cycle assessment (LCA). It includes not only fuel combustion, but also emissions from vehicle manufacturing, maintenance, and end of life, infrastructure construction, operation, maintenance, and end of life, and petroleum exploration, refining, and fuel distribution. Results indicate that total life-cycle emissions of freight transportation modes are underestimated if only tailpipe emissions are accounted for. In the case of CO2 and NOx, tailpipe emissions underestimate total emissions by up to 38%, depending on the mode. Total life-cycle emissions of CO and SO2 are up to seven times higher than tailpipe emissions. Sensitivity analysis considers the effects of vehicle type, geography, and mode efficiency on the final results. Policy implications of this analysis are also discussed. For example, while it is widely assumed that currently proposed regulations will result in substantial reductions in emissions, we find that this is true for NOx emissions, because fuel combustion is the main cause, and to a lesser extent for SO2, but not for PM10 emissions, which are significantly affected by the other life-cycle phases.

Environmental Assessment of Freight Transportation in the U.S.

International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 2006, 11(4), pp. 229-239, doi: 10.1065/lca2006.02.244

This study provides a life cycle inventory of air emissions (CO2, NOx, PM10, and CO) associated with the transportation of goods by road, rail, and air in the U.S. It includes the manufacturing, use, maintenance, and end-of-life of vehicles, the construction, operation, maintenance, and end-of-life of transportation infrastructure, as well as oil exploration, fuel refining, and fuel distribution. The comparison is performed using hybrid life cycle assessment (LCA), a combination of process-based LCA and economic input-output analysis-based LCA (EIO-LCA). All these components are added by means of a common functional unit of grams of air pollutant per ton-mile of freight activity. Results show that the vehicle use phase is responsible for approximately 70% of total emissions of CO2 for all three modes. This confirms that tailpipe emissions underestimate total emissions of freight transportation as infrastructure, pre-combustion, as well as vehicle manufacturing and end-of-life account for a sizeable share of total emissions. Differences between tailpipe emissions and total system wide emissions can range from only 4% for road transportation's CO emissions to an almost ten-fold difference for air transportation's PM10 emissions. Rail freight has the lowest associated air emissions, followed by road and air transportation. Depending on the pollutant, rail is 50-94% less polluting than road. Air transportation is rated the least efficient in terms of air emissions, partly due to the fact that it carries low weight cargo. It emits 35 times more CO2 than rail and 18 times more than road transportation on a ton-mile basis. It is important to consider infrastructure, vehicle manufacturing, and pre-combustion processes, whose life-cycle share is likely to increase as new tailpipe emission standards are enforced. Emission factors, fuel efficiency, and equipment utilization contribute the most to uncertainty in the results. Further studies are necessary to address all variables that influence these parameters, such as road grade, vehicle speed, and vehicle weight. A focus on regional variation, end-of-life processes, fuel refining processes, terminals, as well as more accurate infrastructure allocation between freight and passenger transportation would strengthen the model.

Transportation Choices and Air Pollution Effects of Telework

ASCE Journal of Infrastructure Systems, 2006, 12(2), pp. 121-134, doi: 10.1061/(ASCE)1076-0342(2006)12:2(121)

Telework has emerged as a possible solution to transportation-related air pollution problems. This paper analyzes, both deterministically and probabilistically, a California-based 1-day telework scenario, and explores how the mode of transportation and other parameters such as vehicle miles traveled, vehicle model, occupancy rate, telecommuting frequency, and season (heating or cooling) affect the air pollution effects of telework programs when energy consumption-related emissions due to heating, cooling, lighting, and the use of electronic and electrical equipment (in the home and company office) are accounted for. Among others, the study found that total telework-related CO2 emissions during the cooling season and SO2, NO\dx, and hydrocarbon emissions in both seasons appear to be lower than nontelework emissions for all modes of transportation (except for light rail with higher NO\dx emissions and urban transit buses with roughly equal NO\dx emissions in the heating season). Light rail also has higher telework N2O and CH4 emissions. However, given the uncertainties in the data, the differences may be negligible. Urban transit buses and commuter express buses were found to be associated with more telework than nontelework CO emissions in both seasons. For these two modes, telework PM10 emissions are higher in the cooling and about the same in the heating season than nontelework emissions. Natural gas-powered ferries have more telework PM10 emissions than nontelework emissions. The study also found that for low-frequency telework programs energy use impacts could overturn transportation-related emission reductions independent of the mode of transportation used. Avoiding more polluting modes of transportation, increasing occupancy rates, substituting longer commutes and especially increasing telecommuting frequency could counteract these negative effects.

Environmental Assessment of Logistics Outsourcing

ASCE Journal of Management in Engineering, 2005, 21(1), pp. 27-37, doi: 10.1061/(ASCE)0742-597X(2005)21:1(27)

Environmental awareness is increasingly important to society, government, and industry, and there is a strong demand for sustainable development practices. The importance of supply chain management is critical, as it characterizes and influences the life cycles of all products. Within the major logistics trends, outsourcing has a significant potential to increase sustainability in the supply chain as third-party logistics providers (3PLs) focus on improving resource utilization and making processes more efficient. However, their motivation is largely economic, and an environmental perspective is rarely seen in 3PLs. As consumers demand greener alternatives and, subsequently, environmental regulatory measures are implemented, 3PLs will have to become more environmentally and socially aware in order to develop sustainability goals. This study compares two scenarios using life-cycle assessment (LCA): one where logistics functions are handled in-house, and an alternative scenario where such functions are outsourced to a 3PL. The impacts of logistics outsourcing on energy utilization, global warming potential, and fatalities are first quantified in the supply chain of an automobile. Even though vehicle operation, responsible for most of the impacts considered, is outside the domain of logistics functions, logistics outsourcing nonetheless has the potential to reduce energy use and global warming potential by 0.4–2% and fatalities by 0.8–3.3% throughout the entire life cycle of a typical automobile. Road and air transportation are found to account for most of the impacts in all selected metrics. Analyzing logistics outsourcing in the other sectors of the U.S. economy revealed the same trend as observed in the supply chain of an automobile.

Energy-related Emissions from Telework

Environmental Science and Technology, 2003, 37(16), pp. 3467-3475, doi: 10.1021/es025849p

Telework is a growing phenomenon that is thought to save energy and air emissions. This paper applies a systems model to telework and nontelework scenarios in order to quantify greenhouse gas and other air emissions from transportation, heating, cooling, lighting, and electronic and electrical equipment use both at the company and the home office. Using United States data, a WWW-based, scalable decision-support tool was created to evaluate the environmental impacts of teleworkers. For a typical case reflecting United States teleworker patterns, the analysis found that telework has the potential to reduce air emissions. However, Monte Carlo simulation employed to perform a probabilistic analysis over a set of likely parameters has revealed that telework may not affect equally the emissions of all types of pollutants. It may decrease CO2, NOx, SO2, PM10, and CO but not N2O and CH4 emissions. Therefore, the scope and goal of telework programs must be defined early in the implementation process. Work-related transportation (commuting) impacts could be reduced as a result of telework; however, home-related impacts due to an employee spending additional time at home could potentially offset these reductions. Company office-related impacts may not be reduced unless the office space is shared with other employees during telework days or eliminated entirely. In states with high telework potential (California, Georgia, Illinois, New York, Texas), telework could save emissions, but it would depend on commuting and climatic patterns and the electricity mix. Environmentally beneficial telework programs are found to depend mainly on commuting patterns, induced energy usage, and characteristics of the office and home space and equipment use.

External Costs of Air Emissions from Transportation

ASCE Journal of Infrastructure Systems, 2001, 7(1), pp. 13-17, doi: 10.1061/(ASCE)1076-0342(2001)7:1(13)

The production of equipment and materials used for transportation facilities and services can have significant environmental effects. Considerable effort is expended to reduce such effects as efficiently and effectively as possible. In this paper, we estimate external environmental costs resulting from the production of common transportation equipment, materials, and services. These external cost estimates only include the effects from air emissions of conventional pollutants, including carbon monoxide, greenhouse gases (or global warming potential), volatile organics, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, and nitrogen oxides. The estimates include all the direct and indirect supply chain emissions, such as electricity generation and mining. The cost estimates are uncertain and are likely to be underestimates of total external costs. However, the estimates should be useful for an initial assessment of the total social costs of transportation projects, and to indicate products and processes worthy of additional pollution prevention efforts. In particular, we find that additional external environmental costs may range from as low as 1% to as high as 45% for transportation services. External environmental costs of transportation equipment manufacturing range between 0.3 and 11%, while the external environmental costs of transportation construction and operation materials are estimated to vary between 1 and 100%.