Feature Article

Driving to Green Buildings: The Transportation Energy Intensity of Buildings

The energy used traveling to and from an average office building—its transportation energy intensity—can be greater than the energy used to run it.

November 5, 2018

Eleven years after its original publication, we have refreshed this groundbreaking report on the transportation energy of buildings and how that energy consumption can be reduced. We have updated all data and statistics, and have conducted new interviews with leaders in the field. (Quotes from 2018 interviews are marked as such.) We have also updated the methodology used to calculate the transportation energy intensity of the average U.S. office building. Rachel Navaro and Matteo Favaloro contributed to this report.

As the world’s first LEED Platinum building, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Philip Merrill Environmental Center was loaded with green features: photovoltaic panels, rainwater harvesting, composting toilets, and bamboo flooring, to mention just a few. However, moving the organization’s staff of around 100 into the new building meant that many employees who had been able to walk to work in the older downtown facility now have to drive roughly ten miles (16 km) to get there.