Transportation Energy Intensity- Why it matters?

Transportation Energy Intensity is described by Alex Wilson as the amount of energy used by people getting to work. In 2007 Alex Wilson wrote in BuildingGreen the findings of comparing it to the energy used by the building EUI (Energy Use Intensity) and found that the transportation energy use was greater than what the building used.

The implications prove that buildings in sprawling locations cause far more carbon emissions from employees and visitors driving to and from them than they save with energy-efficient building technology. For an average existing building, transportation energy use exceeds operating energy use by 16%. This is only counting automobile transportation and does not account for other modes.

The Institute for Transportation and Development Policy has introduced a far more sophisticated concept of Transit Oriented Development (TOD). It implies high quality, thoughtful planning and design of land use and built forms to support, facilitate and prioritize not only the use of transit but the most basic modes of transport, walking, and cycling.

This is now addressed in LEED and other rating systems.

Here’s a selection of the most relevant points by Alex Wilson and Paula Melton’s list of “eight key factors that can reduce the energy intensity of buildings”.

  • Density: The higher it is, the greater the number of options that are on the table.
  • Transit Availability: This is often a function of density.
  • Mixed uses: Ellen Greenberg of the CNU says, “It’s very important for people who ride transit to be able to accomplish multiple things on foot once they arrive at their destination.”
  • Parking Management: Get rid of all that free parking.
  • Walkability: A decade ago, walking was considered to be something that got you from your car to your destination. It was not really considered a transportation option. (It is still often ignored.) Now it is considered key. John Holtzclaw says, “Walkability and public transit go hand-in-hand.

Cover photo by Dewang Gupta from Unsplash 

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