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Recent Developments

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This section describes recent developments related to transportation-related sustainability. If you would like to suggest a recent development on this topic, please submit a short description to AASHTO (including any pertinent links) on the Share Info with AASHTO form.

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Northeast, Mid-Atlantic States Encourage Development of Clean Transportation

The Transportation and Climate Initiative has announced the continued support of Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states to explore strategies to reduce carbon emissions, improve transportation, and advance investments in clean transportation technologies. The states have been working together since 2015 and will continue by facilitating discussions to share goals and perspectives and to diversify transportation systems. To support these efforts, the Georgetown Climate Center released a report concerning market-based approaches to a multi-state transportation policy. The report provides an overview of the transportation fuel system in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions and how a cap-and-invest system covering gasoline and on-road diesel could operate. The report recommends complementary financing strategies to advance clean transportation markets. For more information, link to the announcement. (11-13-17)

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National Assessment Shows Causes, Effects of Climate Change

The U.S. Global Change Research Program has released its 4th National Climate Assessment to highlight recent findings concerning climate change. The assessment indicates that it is extremely likely that human activities are the dominant cause of warming since the mid-20th century. The assessment also illustrates the significant probability of unanticipated effects occurring, such as multiple extreme weather events occurring simultaneously. The assessment addresses climate models and scenarios, physical drivers of climate change, and changes in precipitation nationwide. The likelihood of droughts, floods, and wildfires as well as extreme storms and sea level rise are also highlighted. For more information, link to the assessment. (11-3-17)

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Energy Department Study Evaluates Use of Extreme Fast Charging for EVs

The Department of Energy has released a report on enabling use of fast-charge power stations to increase use of battery electric vehicles (BEV). The study recommends extreme fast charging – at 400 kilowatts for BEVs to be competitive with internal combustion engine vehicles. It provides an overview of BEVs, battery costs, and barriers to extreme fast charging. It also outlines associated research and development needs to resolve such challenges. For more information, link to the report. (October 2017)

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Report Provides Status of Hydrogen Fuel Cell Infrastructure

The International Council on Clean Transportation has released a briefing on the development of infrastructure for fuel cell vehicle deployment around the world. The report provides the status of fuel cell vehicle development as of mid-2017, indicating that manufacturers have made major research and development investments. In addition, the report analyzes hydrogen infrastructure development in Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the U.S., illustrating that many governments and industries have initiated plans to develop infrastructure networks and that investment will be needed for the next 10 to 15 years. For more information, link to the report. (October 2017)

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TRB Research Record Addresses Energy and Environment

The Transportation Research Board has released a compilation of papers concerning environment and energy in Volume 2628 of its Transportation Research Record journal. The issue addresses life-cycle benefits of recycled material in highway construction, obtaining thermoelectric energy from asphalt pavements, and highway noise analyses and policies. The issue also provides a comparison of projections for corporate average fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards and an analysis of electric vehicle purchaser satisfaction. In addition, it addresses the use of statewide models as tools for zero-emission vehicle deployment. For more information, link to the report. (10-2-17)

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Report Analyzes Use of Zero-Emission Heavy-Duty Vehicle Technology

The International Council on Clean Transportation has issued a report concerning the use of zero-emission heavy-duty vehicle technology to decarbonize the freight sector. The report provides an overview of heavy-duty vehicle policies in Canada, China, Japan, and the U.S., and includes a list of zero-emission truck projects for medium-duty, heavy-duty, in-road, and hydrogen fuel cell trucks. A technology analysis is provided to account for costs associated with vehicle use, efficiency, and cost of ownership, as well as an analysis of the emissions impacts of various tractor-trailer technologies. The report indicates that electric vehicles that are dynamically charged could play an important role in creating more market options for electric trucks. The report also illustrates that promotion of drayage, bus, and urban delivery truck applications are important in encouraging the development of electric-drive trucks. For more information, link to the report. (September 2017)

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Report Evaluates Progress Toward Reducing GHG Emissions in the U.S.

The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions has released a report regarding progress towards reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the U.S. The report provides an overview of GHG emission trends since 2005 indicating that improved vehicle efficiency along with other policy-related factors have contributed to emissions reductions. The report also examines projected emissions for 2025 that illustrate a reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and non-CO2 emissions due to ongoing city and business efforts and land and energy usage. Efforts that are already underway to reduce emissions also are highlighted, including carbon pricing legislation and technological advances. The report reveals that states and cities can curtail U.S. GHG emissions, even in the absence of federal regulations. For more information, link to the report. (September 2017)

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Agency Awards $22 Million to Increase Production of Macroalgae

The Department of Energy, Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, has awarded $22 million to 18 projects to increase production of macroalgae as part of the Macroalgae Research Inspiring Novel Energy Resources (MARINER) Program. Macroalgae can be used for transportation fuels without competing with food crops for land and water. The University of Alaska Fairbanks was selected to develop scale model farms capable of cost effectively producing sugar kelp, a type of seaweed. The University of Southern Mississippi also was selected to create a semi-autonomous enclosure to contain fields of free-floating Sargassum mats. For more information, link to the announcement. (9-19-17)

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DOE Analyzes Production of Renewable Natural Gas for Vehicles

The Department of Energy has released a case study concerning the transformation of food waste into renewable compressed natural gas (R-CNG) to fuel vehicles. The study highlights the joint efforts of Atlas Disposal Industries and CleanWorld, both of California, to create a closed-loop system for conversion of food waste to vehicle fuels. The study addresses the financial benefits, existing infrastructure for natural gas vehicles, and the energy security, climate, and health benefits. In addition, the study describes the federal and state policy incentives that were provided to drive the project to completion. It indicates that production of R-CNG provides a net-carbon-negative fuel. For more information, link to the study. (9-16-17)

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Report Issued on Renewable Energy in Highway Rights of Way Peer Exchange

The Federal Highway Administration has released a report on a peer exchange concerning approaches to accommodate renewable energy technologies in highway rights-of-way. The peer exchange, held in July 2017, included presentations regarding federal regulatory requirements for alternative uses of highway rights-of-way. The exchange also included presentations from state departments of transportation regarding the use of solar panels along I-90 in Massachusetts and the regulatory challenges for Maryland to expand use of renewable energy in rights-of-way. The peer exchange indicated that most projects are funded via public-private partnerships and that state incentives such as net metering programs play an important role. For more information, link to the report. (9-14-17)

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Use of Photovoltaic Noise Barriers Highlighted in FHWA Report

The Federal Highway Administration has issued a report concerning the use of solar noise barriers along highway rights-of-way. Such noise barriers would incorporate photovoltaic (PV) systems to reduce noise and produce renewable energy simultaneously. The report provides a review of solar efficiency, safety performance, and economic feasibility of PV noise barriers. Case studies from Australia, the Netherlands, and Switzerland are included to highlight required policies for deployment, barriers to implementation, and maintenance costs. In addition, the report focuses on projects in the U.S., such as the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s Lexington Solar Retrofit Pilot Program and the state of Georgia’s testing ground, The Ray, set to be the first net zero highway. For more information, link to the report. (August 2017).

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FHWA Webinar on Infrastructure Carbon Estimator Tool Available

The Federal Highway Administration has announced the availability of a webinar recording that provides an overview of the agency’s Infrastructure Carbon Estimator (ICE) Tool. Speakers in the webinar discuss why estimating carbon emissions from highway construction and maintenance is important, how to use the ICE tool, and what data and analysis were used to create the tool. The tool was developed in 2014 to help transportation agencies estimate greenhouse gas emissions from the construction and maintenance of roadways and parking facilities, bridges, public transportation facilities, and bicycle/pedestrian facilities. For more information, including the June 8 webinar recording and the ICE tool, link here. (6-16-17)

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Report to Congress Addresses Alternative Fuel Financing

Options for financing and creating access to alternative fuel stations are addressed in a new report issued by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). This report to Congress, requested in Senate Report 113-45, highlights efforts under the Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Program to create financing mechanisms to deploy alternative fuel vehicles and associated infrastructure. An overview of federal financial assistance programs such as the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program and the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program, also is included. In addition, the report focuses on current efforts conducted by FHWA such as webinars and other federal actions geared towards advancing electric vehicle deployment. For more information, link to the report. (5-15-17)

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Featured Case Study

  • Case Study Photo

    The Vermont Agency of Transportation is installing solar projects to offset its energy use, such as this solar array at the Rutland Airport.

    Read Case Study >Photo: Vermont Agency of Transportation

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AASHTO (American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials)
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