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Policy Brief: Transit-Oriented Development Infill in Phoenix Can Reduce Future Transportation and Land Use Life-cycle Environmental Impacts

Description

This policy brief has been superseded by publication of the results in the Journal of Planning Education and Research (JPER), Volume 33, No. 4.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

This policy brief has been superseded by publication of the results in the Journal of Planning Education and Research (JPER), Volume 33, No. 4.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.

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The Water, Energy, & Infrastructure Co-Benefits of Smart Growth Planning in Phoenix

Description

Phoenix is the sixth most populated city in the United States and the 12th largest metropolitan area by population, with about 4.4 million people. As the region continues to grow,

Phoenix is the sixth most populated city in the United States and the 12th largest metropolitan area by population, with about 4.4 million people. As the region continues to grow, the demand for housing and jobs within the metropolitan area is projected to rise under uncertain climate conditions.

Undergraduate and graduate students from Engineering, Sustainability, and Urban Planning in ASU’s Urban Infrastructure Anatomy and Sustainable Development course evaluated the water, energy, and infrastructure changes that result from smart growth in Phoenix, Arizona. The Maricopa Association of Government's Sustainable Transportation and Land Use Integration Study identified a market for 485,000 residential dwelling units in the urban core. Household water and energy use changes, changes in infrastructure needs, and financial and economic savings are assessed along with associated energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

The course project has produced data on sustainable development in Phoenix and the findings will be made available through ASU’s Urban Sustainability Lab.

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Life Cycle Assessment of Ecosystem Services for Phoenix’s Building Stock

Description

Better methods are necessary to fully account for anthropogenic impacts on ecosystems and the essential services provided by ecosystems that sustain human life. Current methods for assessing sustainability, such as

Better methods are necessary to fully account for anthropogenic impacts on ecosystems and the essential services provided by ecosystems that sustain human life. Current methods for assessing sustainability, such as life cycle assessment (LCA), typically focus on easily quantifiable indicators such as air emissions with no accounting for the essential ecosystem benefits that support human or industrial processes. For this reason, more comprehensive, transparent, and robust methods are necessary for holistic understanding of urban technosphere and ecosphere systems, including their interfaces. Incorporating ecosystem service indicators into LCA is an important step in spanning this knowledge gap.

For urban systems, many built environment processes have been investigated but need to be expanded with life cycle assessment for understanding ecosphere impacts. To pilot these new methods, a material inventory of the building infrastructure of Phoenix, Arizona can be coupled with LCA to gain perspective on the impacts assessment for built structures in Phoenix. This inventory will identify the origins of materials stocks, and the solid and air emissions waste associated with their raw material extraction, processing, and construction and identify key areas of future research necessary to fully account for ecosystem services in urban sustainability assessments. Based on this preliminary study, the ecosystem service impacts of metropolitan Phoenix stretch far beyond the county boundaries. A life cycle accounting of the Phoenix’s embedded building materials will inform policy and decision makers, assist with community education, and inform the urban sustainability community of consequences.

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