Feature Article

Transportation Planning: It's Time for Green Design to Hit the Road

If our goal is to reduce the overall environmental impact of our building projects, we must begin paying more attention to the role automobiles play in these projects. Even the most environmentally responsible house—for example, an energy-independent, passive-solar house, built of salvaged and recycled materials, with graywater separation—will have a very significant environmental impact if its occupants have to get into single-occupancy cars each morning and commute twenty miles to work. Similarly, a state-of-the-art green office building should get low overall environmental marks if most of the workers continue driving their own cars to work every day.

Addressing transportation is very different than designing a building to make use of natural daylighting or specifying green building materials. Dealing with transportation requires taking a look at the big picture—not only the building, but the building’s context in the immediate site, the community, and the region. Very often, influencing transportation patterns is beyond the scope of a particular building project: the architect or builder of a single-family house on a given lot, for example, has very few tools available to influence how that home’s occupants will get around. If we keep transportation concerns in mind, however, nearly all of us can play a role in reducing dependence on automobiles. Those who can have the greatest impact on transportation are builders, developers, and designers of large residential developments and commercial buildings, along with the planners and landscape architects involved in such projects. But by getting involved with local planning commissions and committees, all of us can have a tremendous positive impact.

This article takes a look at why we need to address the transportation side of building and what we can do to reduce dependence on the automobile. By necessity, most of the measures addressed in this article relate to macro-scale planning and development, but we have also tried to emphasize those measures that apply to designers and builders of individual buildings.

Published January 1, 1996

Wilson, A. (1996, January 1). Transportation Planning: It's Time for Green Design to Hit the Road. Retrieved from https://www.buildinggreen.com/feature/transportation-planning-its-time-green-design-hit-road