Transportation generates roughly a third of the greenhouse gases produced in the United States.
The solution for cutting those emissions lies not just in the hope that technology will one day magically cure our cars of their emissions. Nor does it rest with only layering greener ways of getting around —like transit, walking, or biking — over the current landscape in our cities, towns, and rural areas. If we want things to change, we need to change the types of places we build to make cleaner transportation possible and convenient — or even the norm.
Smart Growth America coalition member TransForm has developed a certification program called GreenTRIP to encourage building the kinds of places we need to reduce our carbon emissions. The certification program rewards developers and municipalities that reduce traffic and greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. It acts as a complement to the LEED for Neighborhood Development program (LEED-ND), one that focuses specifically on the place transportation occupies in sustainable land use.
Matthew Roth of Streetsblog San Fransisco wrote,
“Developments must have one or more of the following: unbundled parking, free car-share membership, and provide at least one 50-percent discounted transit pass per unit for the life of the project. These thresholds to reduce driving must result in no more than 35 VMT per unit per day in less dense areas, and no more than 25 VMT in dense areas. Bay Area average VMT is 50 miles per day. Likewise, parking ratios cannot be higher than 1.5 spaces per unit in less dense areas, or .75:1 in dense areas [PDF].
“By really focusing on this elemen — how much traffic [developments] generate — we think this tool is a huge complement to existing LEED and will serve an important function that LEED doesn’t get to,” said Stuart Cohen, TransForm’s Executive Director. “The best thing is the reaction from cities and developers: they are hungry for this.”
You can read more about the program, including the five successful pilot projects, at the TransForm website.