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Nichols B.G.,Puget Sound Regional Council | Kockelman K.M.,University of Texas at Austin
Energy Policy | Year: 2014

The built environment can be used to influence travel demand, but very few studies consider the relative energy savings of such policies in context of a complex urban system. This analysis quantifies the day-to-day and embodied energy consumption of four different neighborhoods in Austin, Texas, to examine how built environment variations influence various sources of urban energy consumption. A microsimulation combines models for petroleum use (from driving) and residential and commercial power and natural gas use with rigorously measured building stock and infrastructure materials quantities (to arrive at embodied energy). Results indicate that the more suburban neighborhoods, with mostly detached single-family homes, consume up to 320% more embodied energy, 150% more operational energy, and about 160% more total life-cycle energy (per capita) than a densely developed neighborhood with mostly low-rise-apartments and duplexes. Across all neighborhoods, operational energy use comprised 83 to 92% of total energy use, and transportation sources (including personal vehicles and transit, plus street, parking structure, and sidewalk infrastructure) made up 44 to 47% of the life-cycle energy demands tallied. Energy elasticity calculations across the neighborhoods suggest that increased population density and reduced residential unit size offer greatest life-cycle energy savings per capita, by reducing both operational demands from driving and home energy use, and from less embodied energy from construction. These results provide measurable metrics for comparing different neighborhood styles and develop a framework to anticipate energy-savings from changes in the built environment versus household energy efficiency. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. Source


Kitchen M.,Puget Sound Regional Council
Transportation Research Record | Year: 2012

The Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) in Washington State has developed a set of procedures and methods for project and program evaluation that generally fall into the category of transportation benefit-cost analysis. The purpose of these methods is to be able to produce information about project or program performance relative to performance under a baseline set of conditions in which the project or program has not been implemented. PSRC used these benefit-cost analysis methods to develop and evaluate regional transportation planning alternatives during its most recent planning process. The creation of alternative regional transportation plans for analysis is not entirely unlike the development of investment portfolios. Acceptance of the findings of a comprehensive benefit-cost analysis as the appropriate analytical framework solves many, but not all, of the problems of practical implementation of a framework for evaluation of a scenario. Performance of a truly comprehensive benefit-cost analysis in a complex practical setting, however, introduces some empirical and policy challenges. PSRC has taken practical steps toward a more systematic approach to an alternative method of analysis. Incorporation of user benefit analysis into the process of evaluation of a scenario produces a natural shift toward consideration of development and selection of a scenario as an investment optimization problem. The paper explores additional approaches that might further advance the state of the practice in regional transportation planning. Source


Samberg S.,RK and K Engineers | Bassok A.,Puget Sound Regional Council | Holman S.,Parametrix
Transportation Research Record | Year: 2011

A crucial element of sustainability is the optimization of system efficiency by the maximization of existing resources and the limitation of the necessity of infrastructure expansion. Although the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification is an internationally recognized standard for determining sustainable architecture, no officially accepted method exists for evaluating sustainable transportation. The development of a performance evaluation method for sustainable transportation is necessary, with a focus on multimodal mobility rather than on automobility. It is crucial that current transportation projects not preclude the provision of multimodal mobility options in the future. This paper reviews the literature on operational and proposed evaluation strategies for transportation projects and proposes a sustainable transportation evaluation method. The sustainable transportation evaluation method builds on the observed beneficial qualities of the existing evaluation systems and attempts to address their shortcomings. Implementation of the sustainable transportation evaluation method relies on established multicriterion techniques that allow for quantitative and qualitative evaluation of the sustainability of transportation projects during the planning, design, and construction phases. The evaluation method proposed can augment traditional environmental analysis performed for transportation project selection. The method is designed to be flexible so that it can be easily implemented by a wide range of stakeholders who are considering diverse issues. Source


Hepinstall-Cymerman J.,University of Georgia | Coe S.,Puget Sound Regional Council | Hutyra L.R.,Boston University
Urban Ecosystems | Year: 2013

Many regions of the globe are experiencing rapid urban growth, the location and intensity of which can have negative effects on ecological and social systems. In some locales, planners and policy makers have used urban growth boundaries to direct the location and intensity of development; however the empirical evidence for the efficacy of such policies is mixed. Monitoring the location of urban growth is an essential first step in understanding how the system has changed over time. In addition, if regulations purporting to direct urban growth to specific locales are present, it is important to evaluate if the desired pattern (or change in pattern) has been observed. In this paper, we document land cover and change across six dates (1986, 1991, 1995, 1999, 2002, and 2007) for six counties in the Central Puget Sound, Washington State, USA. We explore patterns of change by three different spatial partitions (the region, each county, 2000 U. S. Census Tracks), and with respect to urban growth boundaries implemented in the late 1990's as part of the state's Growth Management Act. Urban land cover increased from 8 to 19% of the study area between 1986 and 2007, while lowland deciduous and mixed forests decreased from 21 to 13% and grass and agriculture decreased from 11 to 8%. Land in urban classes outside of the urban growth boundaries increased more rapidly (by area and percentage of new urban land cover) than land within the urban growth boundaries, suggesting that the intended effect of the Growth Management Act to direct growth to within the urban growth boundaries may not have been accomplished by 2007. Urban sprawl, as estimated by the area of land per capita, increased overall within the region, with the more rural counties within commuting distance to cities having the highest rate of increase observed. Land cover data is increasingly available and can be used to rapidly evaluate urban development patterns over large areas. Such data are important inputs for policy makers, urban planners, and modelers alike to manage and plan for future population, land use, and land cover changes. © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. Source


Nichols B.G.,Puget Sound Regional Council | Kockelman K.M.,University of Texas at Austin
Transportation Research Record | Year: 2014

Vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) can greatly affect crash risk and, therefore, insurance costs, but accurately assessing VMT has been challenging for insurance agencies. Affordable technology now allows insurance companies to track VMT better and has prompted pilot programs and further research of mileage-based, or pay-as-you-drive (PAYD), insurance. Research shows that PAYD programs can discourage extraneous driving and thereby save drivers money (but reduce consumer welfare by less than consumer cost savings) and reduce crash risks, insurers' costs, and externalities. Studies consider aggregate, national, and statewide effects of PAYD policies, with some focus on equity effects, but much heterogeneity is ignored. This study bolsters existing work by predicting PAYD effects with the use of National Household Travel Survey (NHTS) data. These data are used to model driver response to driving cost changes and an insurance pricing model (per vehicle) according to actual loss data and risk factors by vehicle type. This study anticipates PAYD impact variations across a sample of NHTS households and vehicle types and finds that on average households save enough on reduced insurance and travel costs to cover lost welfare from VMT reductions. Results suggest that the average (light-duty) vehicle will be driven 2.7% less (237 fewer annual miles per year), with average consumer benefits of only $2.00 per vehicle with a premium that is partially fixed and partially mileage based. Drivers with the lowest annual VMT needs are expected to receive the largest welfare benefits, thanks to a convex relationship between VMT and crash losses. This analysis provides support to existing literature that PAYD policies can reduce VMT and insurance pricing equity without harming driver welfare. Source

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