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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Mikhail Chester, Arpad Horvath & Samer Madanat, Environ. Res. Lett. 5 (July-September 2010), Parking infrastructure: energy, emissions, and automobile life-cycle environmental accounting

Environ. Res. Lett5 (July-September 2010) 034001; doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/5/3/034001

Parking infrastructure: energy, emissions, and automobile life-cycle environmental accounting

Mikhail Chester*, Arpad Horvath and Samer Madanat

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Berkeley,
Berkeley CA 94720, USA

1 Author to whom any correspondence should be addressed

Received 8 April 2010; accepted 12 July 2010; published 29 July 2010.
The US parking infrastructure is vast and little is known about its scale and environmental impacts. The few parking space inventories that exist are typically regionalized and no known environmental assessment has been performed to determine the energy and emissions from providing this infrastructure. A better understanding of the scale of US parking is necessary to properly value the total costs of automobile travel. Energy and emissions from constructing and maintaining the parking infrastructure should be considered when assessing the total human health and environmental impacts of vehicle travel. We develop five parking space inventory scenarios and from these estimate the range of infrastructure provided in the US to be between 105 million and 2 billion spaces. Using these estimates, a life-cycle environmental inventory is performed to capture the energy consumption and emissions of greenhouse gases, CO, SO2, NO X, VOC (volatile organic compounds), and PM10 (PM: particulate matter) from raw material extraction, transport, asphalt and concrete production, and placement (including direct, indirect, and supply chain processes) of space construction and maintenance. The environmental assessment is then evaluated within the life-cycle performance of sedans, SUVs (sports utility vehicles), and pickups. Depending on the scenario and vehicle type, the inclusion of parking within the overall life-cycle inventory increases energy consumption from 3.1 to 4.8 MJ by 0.1–0.3 MJ and greenhouse gas emissions from 230 to 380  g CO2e by 6–23 g CO2e per passenger kilometer traveled. Life-cycle automobile SO2 and PM10 emissions show some of the largest increases, by as much as 24% and 89% from the baseline inventory. The environmental consequences of providing the parking spaces are discussed as well as the uncertainty in allocating paved area between parking and roadways.

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