Archive | Sustainability

Greening the Planet with Open Source Software

Occasional Portland Transport contributor Garlynn Woodsong is the presenter at the next PSU Transportation Seminar:

Speakers: Garlynn Woodsong, Calthorpe Associates
Topics: Regional Planning, Greenhouse Gases, and UrbanFootprint open source software
When: Friday, January 31, 2014, 12-1 p.m.
Where: PSU Urban Center Building, SW 6th and Mill, Room 204
Abstracts: Since about 2008, the planning world has been experiencing a paradigm shift that began in places like California and Oregon that have adopted legislation requiring the linking of land use and transportation plans to outcomes, specifically to the reduction of greenhouse gases (GHGs). In response to this need, Calthorpe Associates has developed a new planning tool, called UrbanFootprint, on a fully Open Source platform (i.e. Ubuntu Linux, PostGIS, PostGreSQL, etc.). As a powerful and dynamic web and mobile-enabled geo-spatial scenario creation and modeling tool with full co-benefits analysis capacity, UrbanFootprint has great utility for urban planning and research at multiple scales, from general plans, to project assessments, to regional and state-wide scenario development and analysis. Scenario outcomes measurement modules include: a powerful ‘sketch’ transportation model that produces travel and emissions impacts; a public health analysis engine that measures land use impacts on respiratory disease, obesity, and related impacts and costs; climate-sensitive building energy and water modeling; fiscal impacts analysis; and greenhouse gas and other emissions modeling.


The Long Coffee Supply Chain

This diagram was developed out of a stakeholder interview for the sustainable freight task force I just served on. It’s illustrative that even if you get the last mile to be very sustainable, there’s a lot of complexity in moving even a very simple commodity.


click on image for a larger view

One of the Keys to Sustainable Freight: Full Trucks

I’m serving on a small working group that is trying to develop some high-level ideas for how the City of Portland could encourage more sustainable freight.

It’s a little bit of a mind-bender, because all of my urban design sensibilities push for smaller vehicles.

But in fact from a fuel efficiency perspective, there is a very strong inducement toward larger trucks and keeping them full. Fuel per pound of cargo goes down as trucks get bigger (regardless of what vehicle technology improvements you make like electric or biodiesel).

The other half of the question is reducing vehicle miles traveled (VMT). Obviously from this point of view it’s better to send out a full truck and let it deliver until it’s empty.

The problem is, many customers want their deliveries at the same time (7-10am is typical). This can result in running many partially empty trucks at the same time, because you can only fill the truck with what it can deliver during that window.

Some of the keys to making this more efficient would include:

  • Getting customers (with some kind of financial inducement?) to accept night-time deliveries or deliveries over a wider time span during the day
  • Getting customers to hold more inventory so they get larger, less frequent deliveries (doesn’t work for perishable goods)

It’s a very interesting set of tradeoffs.