The Transportation Energy Intensity of Buildings

Alex Wilson of Building Green notes that employees for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation used to walk to work; now, to get to the world's first LEED Platinum building, the Philip Merrill Environmental Center, employees have to drive. He notes for an average office building in the United States, commuting by office workers accounts for 30% more energy than the building itself uses. For a modern green building, it is as much as 50% more.

He suggests that we have to measure "Transportation energy intensity" -"the amount of energy associated with getting people to and from that building, whether they are commuters, shoppers, vendors, or homeowners. The transportation energy intensity of buildings has a lot to do with location. An urban office building that workers can reach by public transit or a hardware store in a dense town center will likely have a significantly lower transportation energy intensity than a suburban office park or a retail establishment in a suburban strip mall." ::BuildingGreen

Wilson says that LEED should recognize this.

"USGBC should articulate the specific needs for such performance-based metrics and assemble a team of the leading experts in transportation and land-use planning to develop those metrics. The end product might be a "transportation energy intensity" spreadsheet that would be used for a building going through LEED certification. A dozen or so factors would be entered for such attributes as distance to public transit, neighborhood density, limitations on parking, access to bicycle and pedestrian pathways, and streetscape design amenities like traffic calming that encourage pedestrian use."

Buildings don't happen in a vacuum. If we are serious about building green buildings, they have to be built in place that people can get to. ::BuildingGreen

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