Parking infrastructure: Energy, emissions, and automobile life-cycle environmental accounting

Mikhail Chester, Arpad Horvath, Samer Madanat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The US parking infrastructure is vast and little is known about its scale and environmental impacts. The few parking space inventories that exist are typically regionalized and no known environmental assessment has been performed to determine the energy and emissions from providing this infrastructure. A better understanding of the scale of US parking is necessary to properly value the total costs of automobile travel. Energy and emissions from constructing and maintaining the parking infrastructure should be considered when assessing the total human health and environmental impacts of vehicle travel. We develop five parking space inventory scenarios and from these estimate the range of infrastructure provided in the US to be between 105 million and 2 billion spaces. Using these estimates, a life-cycle environmental inventory is performed to capture the energy consumption and emissions of greenhouse gases, CO, SO2, NOX , VOC (volatile organic compounds), and PM 10 (PM: particulate matter) from raw material extraction, transport, asphalt and concrete production, and placement (including direct, indirect, and supply chain processes) of space construction and maintenance. The environmental assessment is then evaluated within the life-cycle performance of sedans, SUVs (sports utility vehicles), and pickups. Depending on the scenario and vehicle type, the inclusion of parking within the overall life-cycle inventory increases energy consumption from 3.1 to 4.8 MJ by 0.1-0.3 MJ and greenhouse gas emissions from 230 to 380 g CO2e by 6-23 g CO2e per passenger kilometer traveled. Life-cycle automobile SO2 and PM10 emissions show some of the largest increases, by as much as 24% and 89% from the baseline inventory. The environmental consequences of providing the parking spaces are discussed as well as the uncertainty in allocating paved area between parking and roadways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number034001
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Volume5
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2010

Keywords

  • Automobiles
  • Cars
  • Criteria air pollutants
  • Emissions
  • Energy
  • Greenhouse gases
  • Life-cycle assessment
  • Parking
  • Passenger transportation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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