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Student Thesis and Dissertations

Moving Goods to Consumers: Land Use Patterns, Logistics, and Emissions

Publication Date: 2014

Worldwide, awareness has been raised about the dangers of growing greenhouse gas emissions. In the United States, transportation is a key contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. American and European researchers have identified a potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by replacing passenger vehicle travel with delivery service. These reductions are possible because, while delivery vehicles have higher rates of greenhouse gas emissions than private light-duty vehicles, the routing of delivery vehicles to customers is far more efficient than those customers traveling independently. In addition to lowering travel-associated greenhouse gas emissions, because of their more efficient routing and tendency to occur during off-peak hours, delivery services have the potential to reduce congestion. Thus, replacing passenger vehicle travel with delivery service provides opportunity to address global concerns – greenhouse gas emissions and congestion. While addressing the impact of transportation on greenhouse gas emissions is critical, transportation also produces significant levels of criteria pollutants, which impact the health of those in the immediate area. These impacts are of particular concern in urban areas, which due to their constrained land availability increase proximity of residents to the roadway network. In the United States, heavy vehicles (those typically used for deliveries) produce a disproportionate amount of NOx and particulate matter – heavy vehicles represent roughly 9% of vehicle miles travelled but produce nearly 50% of the NOx and PM10 from transportation. Researchers have noted that urban policies designed to address local concerns including air quality impacts and noise pollution – like time and size restrictions – have a tendency to increase global impacts, by increasing the number of vehicles on the road, by increasing the total VMT required, or by increasing the amount of CO2 generated. The work presented here is designed to determine whether replacing passenger vehicle travel with delivery service can address both concerns simultaneously. In other words, can replacing passenger travel with delivery service reduce congestion and CO2 emissions as well as selected criteria pollutants? Further, does the design of the delivery service impacts the results? Lastly, how do these impacts differ in rural versus urban land use patterns? This work models the amount of VMT, CO2, NOx, and PM10 generated by personal travel and delivery vehicles in a number of different development patterns and in a number of different scenarios, including various warehouse locations. In all scenarios, VMT is reduced through the use of delivery service, and in all scenarios, NOx and PM10 are lowest when passenger vehicles are used for the last mile of travel. The goods movement scheme that results in the lowest generation of CO2, however, varies by municipality. Regression models for each goods movement scheme and models that compare sets of goods movement schemes were developed. The most influential variables in all models were measures of roadway density and proximity of a service area to the regional warehouse. These results allow for a comparison of the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions in the form of CO2 to local criteria pollutants (NOx and PM10) for each scenario. These efforts will contribute to increased integration of goods movement in urban planning, inform policies designed to mitigate the impacts of goods movement vehicles, and provide insights into achieving sustainability targets, especially as online shopping and goods delivery becomes more prevalent.

Authors: Erica Wygonik
Recommended Citation:
Wygonic, Erica. 2014, Moving Goods to Consumers: Land Use Patterns, Logistics, and Emissions, University of Washington, Doctoral Dissertation.
Thesis: Array