Transportation Program Responses to Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Reduction Initiatives and Energy Reduction Programs

Focus Area

Climate Change


Air Quality, Environmental Process




Under $99,000


1-2 years

Research Idea Scope

TERI Database Administrator Notes: Funded as NCHRP Project 25-25, Task 45 ( “Transportation Program Responses to Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Reduction Initiatives and Energy Reduction Programs”


The prospect of global warming caused by an increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is a major policy issue. The major contributor to GHG is CO2, and a major sector generating GHG is the transportation sector via the burning of petroleum products. The transportation sector is also responsible for significant amounts of petroleum consumption. According to USDOT, the transportation sector is currently responsible for approximately one-quarter of GHG emissions in the United States and a majority of fuel consumption.. Efforts to reduce petroleum consumption or limit growth in GHG emissions will necessarily include consideration of the transportation sector. Within the Federal-aid highway program states and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) have the major decision-making authority for highway construction projects and system operations. Transportation Control Measures, travel demand management, congestion management strategies, Intelligent Transportation Systems are all sources of candidate benefits. In addition, transportation systems have impacts on off-road construction energy use and emission levels.    If the transportation sector is directed to further reduce GHG and/or energy consumption levels at the state or metropolitan level, a strategic assessment, now, would aid in appropriate transportation community response to policy officials.
Research is needed to understand the relative GHG reduction and energy efficiency capability of transportation related strategies that States and MPOs can deliver. Research is also needed to develop a critical path for state transportation departments  and MPOs to follow when participating in state or regional efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy efficiency improvements. For example: how should existing TDM or congestion management efforts be valued, what are the appropriate GHG emissions models for various travel conditions, how can planners estimate future travel elasticity related to fuel price fluctuations, etc. This research should consider previous research related to GHG emissions and the transportation sector. It should provide information that can be used by AASHTO in commenting on various national proposals and by transportation planners participating in GHG reduction initiatives at the state or regional level. Previous work on ozone reduction strategies will assist in placing the appropriate emphasis on the appropriate program emphasis. 

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