follow this link to download a copy of my masters thesis defense presentation which was given 4 december 2009 at ubc’s institute for resources, environment and sustainability. the research’s abstract is as follows …
This thesis summarizes efforts to isolate and quantify fundamental relationships among built environment characteristics, activity patterns and vehicle use in order to assess their relative influences on vehicle GHG emissions in the Metro Vancouver region of British Columbia, Canada. Activity-based structural equation models were specified in a cross-sectional study design using local travel survey data and highly detailed urban form data. This approach yielded two benefits. First, structural equation analysis permitted explicit modeling of the indirect effects between built environment variables and vehicle emissions as mediated through activity patterns and vehicle use. Second, modeling travel at the activity-tour level allowed for a deeper understanding of the relative contributions of local and regional built environment variables is explaining tour complexity, vehicle use and emissions. Controlling for pertinent socio-economic and demographic variables, standardized parameter coefficients show the built environment to be a significantly strong predictor of vehicle-related GHG emissions across all models, although the strength and magnitude of these effects is demonstrated to vary by activity tour type. The local built environment is a stronger predictor of vehicle use and related emissions for non-work/school tours, while regional accessibility measures yielded larger effects on the carbon-intensity of work and school tours. Vehicle accessibility yielded consistently significant and large effects on vehicle use and emissions across all models. Findings suggest that policy directions beyond promoting more compact, walkable and regionally connected development to curb emissions are required. Additional strategies may include those that address vehicle use in a more direct manner, including higher taxation, insurance or parking fees. Future research would benefit by incorporating travel and residential preferences to control for self-selection, assessing the affect of the work and school built environment on activity patterns and undertaking a more holistic assessment of the links between the built environment and total household emissions and energy use (including building, transportation, etc).
Filed under: commentary
today’s globe and mail includes an article reporting on city of vancouver planning director brent toderian’s decision to allow four new extra-tall buildings on the city’s skyline, including one with a potential height of 700 feet.
the issue at stake is the city’s view corridor’s of the north shore mountains.
by allowing for only a handful of super-tall structures in the downtown core, the city is missing an opportunity to strengthen the existing view corridors with a sound and coherent policy direction. certainly, such a haphazard approach may lead to unintended precedences that could ultimately diminish this city’s extraordinary visual backdrop into the future.