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Measuring the Sustainability Impact of Misloaded Packages

The Urban Freight Lab and RFID device manufacturer Impinj are joining forces to create a conceptual framework aimed at assessing the repercussions of misloaded packages on Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) and emissions. Misloaded packages (packages placed on an incorrect delivery vehicle) can cause drivers to deviate from their intended routes miles to rectify the error, increasing both VMT and emissions. This collaborative effort will analyze the consequences of such incidents in order to optimize delivery efficiency, minimize environmental impacts, and contribute to more efficient and environmentally sustainable urban freight practices.

Impinj, a leader in the manufacturing of radio frequency identification (RFID) devices, has developed a Misloaded Packages Carbon Calculator, a model that quantifies the environmental impact of misloaded packages. The Urban Freight Lab (UFL) is an internationally recognized laboratory with research experience in measuring behaviors and impacts of last-mile delivery systems.

The current project proposes a collaboration between Impinj and the UFL to:

  • Explore the operational and sustainability impacts of misloaded packages across different industry segments and communicate findings through a blog post.
  • Introduce a novel conceptual model framework based on the IMPINJ carbon calculator that could be implemented in a future project to estimate the marginal change in Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) and emissions from changes in the misload rate.

Project Outputs
The UFL team will output the following deliverables:

  • A presentation at the 2023 Impinj Executive Forum to introduce the Impinj-UFL collaboration and the model framework for the misload package carbon calculator
  • A blog post reporting on the operational impact of misloaded packages across different industry sectors, and reflection on the sustainability implications of changing the misload rate (percent of misload packages experienced in a typical day)
  • A conceptual model framework based on Impinj misload packages carbon calculator that take into account different behavioral responses to handle misload packages and different industry sectors

The UFL team will complete the following tasks:

  1. The UFL research team will meet with Impinj executives and visit the facilities to learn how RFID technology can be leveraged to reduce misload rates and draft a preliminary list of Impinj customers UFL can interview.
  2. The UFL will present at the 2023 Impinj Executive Forum.
  3. Through Impinj introduction, the UFL team will reach out and schedule at least four interviews with practitioners to document the operational, behavioral and sustainability impacts of misload packages. Interviews will be conducted to cover different sectors, including urban, suburban, and long-haul deliveries.
  4. The UFL will write a draft blog post documenting the results from the interviews, discuss the potential environmental impact of reducing misload rates across different industry sectors, proposed a conceptual model framework on how companies can estimate the marginal change in Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) and emissions from changes in the misload rate.

UPS E-Bike Delivery Pilot Test in Seattle: Analysis of Public Benefits and Costs (Task Order 6)

The City of Seattle granted a permit to United Parcel Service, Inc. (UPS) in fall 2018 to pilot test a new e-bike parcel delivery system in the Pioneer Square/Belltown area for one year. The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) commissioned the Urban Freight Lab (UFL) to quantify and document the public impacts of this multimodal delivery system change in the final 50 feet of supply chains, to provide data and evidence for development of future urban freight policies.

The UFL will conduct analyses into the following research questions:

  1. What are the total changes in VMT and emissions (PM and GHG) to all three affected cargo van routes due to the e-bike pilot test in the Pike Place Market and neighboring areas?
  2. What is the change in the delivery van’s dwell time, e.g. the amount of time the van is parked, before and after introducing the e-bike?
  3. How does the e-bike system affect UPS’ failed first delivery (FFD) attempt rate along the route?
  4. If UPS begins to stage drop boxes along the route for the e-bike (instead of having to replenish from the parked trailer) what are the impacts to total VMT and emissions?
  5. How do e-bike delivery operations impact pedestrian, other bike, and motor traffic?

Economic Analysis of Onboard Monitoring Systems in Commercial Vehicles

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Publication: Transportation Research Record
Volume: 2379
Pages: 64-71
Publication Date: 2013
Onboard monitoring systems (OBMSs) can be used in commercial vehicle operations to monitor driving behavior, to enhance safety. Although improved safety produces an economic benefit to carriers, understanding how this benefit compares with the cost of the system is an important factor for carrier acceptance.
In addition to the safety benefits provided by the use of OBMSs, operational improvements may have economic benefits. This research provides, through a benefit-cost analysis, a better understanding of the economic implications of OBMSs from the perspective of the carrier. In addition to the benefits of reduced crashes, the benefits associated with reduced mileage, reduced fuel costs, and the electronic recording of hours of service (HOS) are considered. A sensitivity analysis demonstrates that OBMSs are economically viable under a wide range of conditions.
The results indicate that for some types of fleets, a reduction in crashes and an improvement in HOS recording provides a net benefit of close to $300,000 over the 5-year expected life span of the system. Furthermore, when additional benefits, such as reduced fuel consumption and reduced vehicle miles, are explored, the operation-related benefits can be upward of seven times more than the safety-related benefits.
This research also shows that net positive benefits are possible in large and small fleets. The results can be used to inform policies that motivate or mandate carriers to use such systems and to inform carriers about the value of system investment.


Authors: Dr. Anne Goodchild, Kelly A. Pitera, Linda Ng Boyle
Recommended Citation:
Pitera, Kelly, Linda Ng Boyle, and Anne V. Goodchild. "Economic Analysis of Onboard Monitoring Systems in Commercial Vehicles." Transportation Research Record 2379, no. 1 (2013): 64-71. 

An Analytical Model for Vehicle Miles Traveled and Carbon Emissions for Goods Delivery Scenarios

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Publication: European Transport Research Review
Volume: 10
Publication Date: 2018

This paper presents an analytical model to contrast the carbon emissions from a number of goods delivery methods. This includes individuals travelling to the store by car, and delivery trucks delivering to homes. While the impact of growing home delivery services has been studied with combinatorial approaches, those approaches do not allow for systematic conclusions regarding when the service provides net benefit. The use of the analytical approach presented here, allows for more systematic relationships to be established between problem parameters, and therefore broader conclusions regarding when delivery services may provide a CO2 benefit over personal travel.


Analytical mathematical models are developed to approximate total vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and carbon emissions for a personal vehicle travel scenario, a local depot vehicle travel scenario, and a regional warehouse travel scenario. A graphical heuristic is developed to compare the carbon emissions of a personal vehicle travel scenario and local depot delivery scenario.


The analytical approach developed and presented in the paper demonstrates that two key variables drive whether a delivery service or personal travel will provide a lower CO2 solution. These are the emissions ratio, and customer density. The emissions ratio represents the relative emissions impact of the delivery vehicle when compared to the personal vehicle. The results show that with a small number of customers, and low emissions ratio, personal travel is preferred. In contrast, with a high number of customers and low emissions ratio, delivery service is preferred.


While other research into the impact of delivery services on CO2 emissions has generally used a combinatorial approach, this paper considers the problem using an analytical model. A detailed simulation can provide locational specificity, but provides less insight into the fundamental drivers of system behavior. The analytical approach exposes the problem’s basic relationships that are independent of local geography and infrastructure. The result is a simple method for identifying context when personal travel, or delivery service, is more CO2 efficient.

Authors: Dr. Anne Goodchild, Erica Wygonik, Nathan Mayes
Recommended Citation:
Goodchild, Anne, Erica Wygonik, and Nathan Mayes. "An analytical model for vehicle miles traveled and carbon emissions for goods delivery scenarios." European Transport Research Review 10, no. 1 (2018): 8.

Urban Form and Last-Mile Goods Movement: Factors Affecting Vehicle Miles Travelled and Emissions

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Publication: Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment
Volume: 61 (A)
Pages: 217-229
Publication Date: 2018

There are established relationships between urban form and passenger travel, but less is known about urban form and goods movement. The work presented in this paper evaluates how the design of a delivery service and the urban form in which it operates affects its performance, as measured by vehicle miles traveled, CO2, NOx, and PM10 emissions.

This work compares simulated amounts of VMT, CO2, NOx, and PM10 generated by last-mile travel in several different development patterns and in many different goods movement structures, including various warehouse locations. Last-mile travel includes personal travel or delivery vehicles delivering goods to customers. 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 efforts will support urban planning for goods movement, 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 become more prevalent.

Authors: Dr. Anne Goodchild, Erica Wygonik
Recommended Citation:
Wygonik, Erica and Anne Goodchild. (2018) Urban Form and Last-Mile Goods Movement: Factors Affecting Vehicle Miles Travelled and Emissions. Transportation Research. Part D, Transport and Environment, 61, 217–229.

Delivery by Drone: An Evaluation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Technology in Reducing CO2 Emissions in the Delivery Service Industry

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Publication: Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment
Volume: 61
Pages: 58-67
Publication Date: 2018

This research paper estimates carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) levels of two delivery models, one by trucks and the other by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or “drones.”

Using several ArcGIS tools and emission standards within a framework of logistical and operational assumptions, it has been found that emission results vary greatly and are highly dependent on the energy requirements of the drone, as well as the distance it must travel and the number of recipients it serves.

Still, general conditions are identified under which drones are likely to provide a CO2 benefit – when service zones are close to the depot, have small numbers of stops, or both. Additionally, measures of VMT for both modes were found to be relatively consistent with existing literature that compares traditional passenger travel with truck delivery.

Authors: Dr. Anne Goodchild, Jordan Toy
Recommended Citation:
Goodchild, Anne, and Jordan Toy. "Delivery by Drone: An Evaluation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Technology in Reducing CO2 Emissions in the Delivery Service Industry" Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment 61 (2018): 58-67.
Student Thesis and Dissertations

Preparing Cities for Package Demand Growth: Predicting Neighborhood Demand and Implementing Truck VMT Reduction Strategies

Publication Date: 2018

E-commerce has empowered consumers to order goods online from anywhere in the world with just a couple of clicks. This new trend has led to significant growth in the number of package deliveries related to online shopping. Seattle’s freight infrastructure is challenged to accommodate this freight growth. Commercial vehicles can already be seen double parked or parked illegally on the city’s streets impacting traffic flow and inconveniencing other road users. It is vital to understand how the package demand is growing in the neighborhoods and what freight trips reduction strategies can cities implement to mitigate the freight growth. The purpose of the research is to analyze Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) reduction strategies in the neighborhoods with different built environment characteristics. First, the impact of individual factors on person’s decision to order goods online for home delivery is analyzed. A predictive model was built that estimates online order probability based on these factors. This model is then applied to synthetic Seattle population to produce estimated demand levels in each neighborhood. Second, two VMT reduction strategies were modeled and analyzed: 1) decreasing number of trucks needed to deliver neighborhoods’ package demand and 2) package locker implementation. Based on packages demand and built environment characteristics, two neighborhoods were chosen for a case study. ArcGIS toolbox was developed to generate delivery stops on the route, ArcGIS Network Analyst was used to make a delivery route and calculate VMT. It was found that VMT reduction strategies have different effects on the delivery system in two neighborhoods. Delivering neighborhoods’ demand in a smaller number of trucks would save slightly more VMT in a dense urban area compared to suburban one. Moreover, since the traffic perception by different road users varies by neighborhood, VMT reduction strategies will be more critical to implement in dense urban areas. Locker implementation strategy will also be more effective in VMT reduction in a dense urban area due to high residential density.

Authors: Polina Butrina
Recommended Citation:
Butrina, Polina (2018). Preparing Cities for Package Demand Growth: Predicting Neighborhood Demand and Implementing Truck VMT Reduction Strategies. University of Washington Master's Degree Thesis.
Thesis: Array

Comparison of Vehicle Miles Traveled and Pollution from Three Goods Movement Strategies

Publication: Sustainable Logistics: Transport and Sustainability (Emerald Group Publishing Limited)
Volume: Volume 6
Pages: 63-82
Publication Date: 2014

This chapter provides additional insight into the role of warehouse location in achieving sustainability targets and provides a novel comparison between delivery and personal travel for criteria pollutants.

Purpose: To provide insight into the role and design of delivery services to address CO2, NO x , and PM10 emissions from passenger travel.Methodology/approach: A simulated North American data sample is served with three transportation structures: last-mile personal vehicles, local-depot-based truck delivery, and regional warehouse-based truck delivery. CO2, NO x , and PM10 emissions are modeled using values from the US EPA’s MOVES model and are added to an ArcGIS optimization scheme.Findings: Local-depot-based truck delivery requires the lowest amount of vehicle miles traveled (VMT), and last-mile passenger travel generates the lowest levels of CO2, NO x , and PM10. While last-mile passenger travel requires the highest amount of VMT, the efficiency gains of the delivery services are not large enough to offset the higher pollution rate of the delivery vehicle as compared to personal vehicles.

Practical implications: This research illustrates the clear role delivery structure and logistics have in impacting the CO2, NO x , and PM10 emissions of goods transportation in North America.

Social implications: This research illustrates the tension between goals to reduce congestion (via VMT reduction) and CO2, NO x , and PM10 emissions.

Originality/value: This chapter provides additional insight into the role of warehouse location in achieving sustainability targets and provides a novel comparison between delivery and personal travel for criteria pollutants.

Authors: Dr. Anne Goodchild, Erica Wygonik
Recommended Citation:
Wygonik, Erica, and Anne Goodchild. "Comparison of vehicle miles traveled and pollution from three goods movement strategies." Sustainable Logistics, pp. 63-82. Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2014.