More Center For Neighborhood Technology Righteousness

CNT had already developed a model for predicting vehicle miles traveled (VMT) for their Housing and Transportation Affordability Index, so it was pretty much a plug and chug to get the household greenhouse gas emissions produced by driving, as mapped in the image above.  The relationship is clear:  more urban = less driving = less CO2 emissions.  And the difference in emissions can be significant:  as much as a factor of two or more depending on where you are in the Puget Sound region.

The inputs to the VMT model include: density, average block size, distance to employment centers, job density, access to amenities, and “transit connectivity index.”  These factors pretty much cover the basic ingredients for a complete, compact, and connected urban neighborhood–the kind of urban built environment that makes sense for the future.

(via Sightline)

7 Responses to “More Center For Neighborhood Technology Righteousness”

  1. uptown

    Does it take into account that Kitsap County has a very good bus system? Bainbridge Island lloks very red compared to the eastside burbs.

    Also, where are those folks on Vashion Island driving too? It just ain’t that big.

  2. eldan

    I’m guessing that Vashon gets dinged because its nearest employment centres are Seattle and Tacoma. I’d be interested to hear how the model treats a ferry commute (and actually what the GHG implications of a ferry commute are), and whether it incorporates where people actually work or just makes assumptions based on the nearest major employment nexuses.

  3. Tony

    This model and map are a bit misleading in that they only account for GHG emissions relating to auto use, which is only a fraction of total GHG impacts. Of course there is that often quoted, completely misleading statistic that 50% of our GHG emissions come from transportation in the Northwest. When one factors in the GHG emissions from food production and distribution, embodied energy in construction, and direct household energy use including electricity and home heating, the difference between suburb and city becomes much less stark. Factor in the GHG emissions from our transit system (also ignored here) and it looks even more like a wash.

    The fact that we get electricity from killing salmon instead of burning coal is irrelevant. Every kilowatt consumed in the northwest is a kilowatt not sold to California, which means one more kilowatt in California is produced by burning coal.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m as much of a preachy urban elitist as you are Dan, but let’s not oversell it as a panacea.

  4. Matt the Engineer

    (psst… California uses natural gas, especially as peaking plants)

    Several of Tony’s other factors work to urban advantage as well. Smaller and connected housing = less heating energy, less lighting, etc. Even the food and goods distribution numbers probably favor Seattlites over suburbanites, living in a port city with rail.

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  7. xoom

    Thanks for an idea, you sparked at thought from a angle I hadn’t given thoguht to yet. Now lets see if I can do something with it.

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