Policy Brief: Transit-Oriented Development Infill in Phoenix Can Reduce Future Transportation and Land Use Life-cycle Environmental Impacts
This policy brief has been superseded by publication of the results in the Journal of Planning Education and Research (JPER), Volume 33, No. 4. DOI: 10.1177/0739456X13507485
Study Background: Researchers at ASU have determined that significant energy and environmental benefits are possible in the Phoenix metro area over the next 60 years from transit-oriented development along the current Valley Metro light rail line. The team evaluated infill densification outcomes when vacant lots and some dedicated surface parking lots are repurposed for residential development. Life cycle building (construction, use, and energy production) and transportation (manufacturing, operation, and energy production) changes were included and energy use and greenhouse gas emissions were evaluated in addition to the potential for respiratory impacts and smog formation. All light rail infill scenarios are compared against new single family home construction in outlying areas.
Overview of Results: In the most conservative scenario, the Phoenix area can place 2,200 homes near light rail and achieve 9-15% reductions in energy use and emissions. By allowing multi-family apartments to fill vacant lots, 12,000 new dwelling units can be infilled achieving a 28-42% reduction. When surface lots are developed in addition to vacant lots then multi-family apartment buildings around light rail can deliver 30-46% energy and environmental reductions. These reductions occur even after new trains are put into operation to meet the increased demand.