Jump to Navigation

UCD Researchers Publish Paper on Assessing Impacts of Residential Growth Patterns on Vehicle Travel and Pollutant Emissions

Professor Deb Niemeier, Song Bai, and Professor Susan L. Handy at the University of California Davis have authored a paper, The impact of residential growth patterns on vehicle travel and pollutant emissions, focusing on assessing the impacts of different long-term primarily residential growth patterns on vehicle travel and pollutant emissions in the eight counties of the San Joaquin Valley region in central California. The authors use an integrated simulation approach coupled with long-term land development scenarios to conduct their analysis.

This paper is available on the Journal of Transportation and Land Use website.

In light of the increasing reliance on compact growth as a fundamental strategy for reducing vehicle emissions, it is important to better understand how land use-transportation interactions influence the production of mobile source emissions. To date, research findings have produced mixed conclusions as to whether compact development as a strategy for accommodating urban growth significantly reduces vehicle travel and, by extension, mitigates environmental impacts, particularly in the area of air quality.

The results of this comparative analysis suggest that higher residential densities result in slightly decreased regional vehicle travel and emissions, and that the effects of future land use growth patterns may vary among different spatial areas. Specifically, they note that compact growth strategies can result in significantly more travel and emissions changes in already fairly urbanized counties. This work indicates a minimum density threshold of approximately \num{1500} households per square mile is necessary to achieve commensurate emissions reductions relative to existing densities.