Integrating life-cycle environmental and economic assessment with transportation and land use planning

Mikhail Chester, Matthew J. Nahlik, Andrew Fraser, Mindy A. Kimball, Venu M. Garikapati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


The environmental outcomes of urban form changes should couple life-cycle and behavioral assessment methods to better understand urban sustainability policy outcomes. Using Phoenix, Arizona light rail as a case study, an integrated transportation and land use life-cycle assessment (ITLU-LCA) framework is developed to assess the changes to energy consumption and air emissions from transit-oriented neighborhood designs. Residential travel, commercial travel, and building energy use are included and the framework integrates household behavior change assessment to explore the environmental and economic outcomes of policies that affect infrastructure. The results show that upfront environmental and economic investments are needed (through more energy-intense building materials for high-density structures) to produce long run benefits in reduced building energy use and automobile travel. The annualized life-cycle benefits of transit-oriented developments in Phoenix can range from 1.7 to 230 Gg CO2e depending on the aggressiveness of residential density. Midpoint impact stressors for respiratory effects and photochemical smog formation are also assessed and can be reduced by 1.2-170 Mg PM10e and 41-5200 Mg O3e annually. These benefits will come at an additional construction cost of up to $410 million resulting in a cost of avoided CO2e at $16-29 and household cost savings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12020-12028
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 5 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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