Enhancing Environment and Health in Transportation Project Design
John T Carmody, Virajita Singh
Report no. CTS 07-08
Good transportation design that enhances communities results in positive impacts on the natural environment--the air, water, soil, and biodiversity that are the life support systems for human society on earth. Design of outdoor and indoor environments can also positively influence human health. The issues related to environment and health fall under the concept of sustainability. This research includes a review of environmental assessment methods, rating systems and guidelines that are currently being used to transform sustainable building practices in the United States. In addition, there is an examination of case studies of exemplary transportation projects demonstrating the benefits of sustainable design approaches. The research includes case studies at three scales--large-scale development, buildings, and infrastructure--and identifies the lessons learned from these projects. While environmental sustainability issues are not new in transportation projects, there is a new and growing recognition that problems are more extensive and more urgent than previously recognized and that there must be a deeper understanding of the connection between planning, design, and construction decisions, as well as their resulting impacts. Transportation design can and should address regional and community scale ecological issues. Effective practices include applying an integrated design approach, making environmental outcomes explicit in the design process, and measuring performance outcomes during the life of the project. An emerging set of sustainable guidelines and standards can be effective tools for setting goals and organizing the design process for well-designed transportation projects.