Methods to Address Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Transportation Construction/Maintenance/Operations Activities

Focus Area

Climate Change


Air Quality, Environmental Process




Under $99k


Under 1 year

Research Idea Scope

TERI Administrator Note (January 2009): Idea selected for implementation with NCHRP 25-25 (Task 58) funding in 2009; completed August 2010

Greenhouse gas emissions and the related subject of global climate change is an emerging environmental issue, with the potential to significantly affect transportation agencies. This proposal is a follow-up to NCHRP 25-25, Task 17 – Assessment of Greenhouse Gas Analysis Techniques for Transportation Projects. That study looked at techniques available to transportation agencies to estimate greenhouse gas emissions from transportation activities. The report from that study (May, 2006) identified several techniques that could be used; however it also identified several gaps. Perhaps the most significant gap disclosed by Task 17 was the lack of techniques for estimating greenhouse gas emissions from activities that State DOTs have the ability to most directly control, namely their construction, maintenance and operations activities. What little information or techniques is available date from the 1980’s and are not user friendly. This research is intended to address that shortcoming.
Research Objectives:
This research will develop a tool (spreadsheet or other) that would allow the user to enter information on construction, maintenance and/or operations activities and would provide reliable estimates of greenhouse gas emissions. The tool should account for different types of equipment as well as different technologies (e.g. retrofits) and operational activities (e.g. hours of operation). Using this tool, transportation agencies could take into account their greenhouse gas emissions as part of their day-to-day activities as well as provide information to the public and other stakeholders in examining the effects of transportation projects.
Specific tasks:
The specific tasks will include:
          Research and compile greenhouse gas emission factors for different equipment types (mowers, bulldozers, etc) and the effect of different fuels and technologies on the base emission factors.
          Develop the analysis tool. The tool should be relatively simple and be able to account for equipment type, operational use, fuel used, technology add-ons.
          Initial testing of the tool with a few volunteer state DOTs to make sure the tool is consistent with typical DOT practices. The tool can also be used at this time to evaluate alternate practices.
          Refinement of the tool, as needed, based on lessons learned from the initial testing.

TERI Administrator Note (June 2007): Related Research
FHWA FY07 STEP Project: Survey and Assessment of State and Local Climate Change Activities, and Transportation and Dissemination of Research and Best Practices

In the absence of Federal regulation or guidance to address climate change, state and local governments have begun taking action on their own. States are setting targets for reducing their greenhouse gas emissions, adopting policies to promote renewable energy efficiency, and developing statewide climate action plans. To date, 28 U.S. states have adopted climate action plans. This research effort would collect and evaluate measures that are being taken at state and local levels to address climate change. The effort may include convening a workshop or forum for state and local governments to record and exchange information. It may also include partnering with one or more MPOs to participate in a pilot to explore integrating climate change considerations into the transportation planning process through visioning or scenario planning, to be used as a model or “best practice” for other MPOs and State DOT’s interested in integrating climate change considerations into their long range transportation planning process. In addition, there is a need for the development of a mechanism, such as a clearinghouse, to exchange and disseminate information among federal, state and local transportation stakeholders so that it can be used to inform transportation decisions-makers on climate change issues.

Suggested By

AASHTO SCOE; Air Quality Subcommittee