Transit-oriented smart growth can reduce life-cycle environmental impacts and household costs in Los Angeles

Matthew J. Nahlik, Mikhail Chester

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations

Abstract

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 470Gg 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-30
Number of pages10
JournalTransport Policy
Volume35
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2014

Keywords

  • Energy and air quality
  • Greenhouse gas emissions
  • Life-cycle assessment
  • Los Angeles
  • Transit-oriented development
  • Transportation and land-use planning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Transportation

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