• Transportation has a significant impact on Texas air quality. The Texas Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Program and Clean Cities Coalition Network offer resources for Texas cities working on reducing air quality impacts from transportation.
  • ACEEE and NCTCOG offer an array of resources for reducing the impact of transportation through land use planning for multimodal mobility, facilitation of public transit use, regional transportation management plans and other strategies.
  • Research groups and collaboratives in Texas are evaluating the adoption of alternative fuel vehicles, especially the electrification of the transportation sector, to reduce environmental impact of transportation and our relationship with mobility.

Efficiency in Transportation

As a a large emitter of greenhouse gases and air pollutants, the transportation sector has significant impacts on a city’s air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, and local economy. Transportation efficiency and mitigation strategies help reduce vehicle miles traveled, reduce emissions from fossil fuel vehicles, and encourage adoption of alternative fuel vehicles. Cities can influence transportation impact through planning for walkability, public transportation services, policies to facilitate alternative fuel vehicles, and purchasing policies for municipal fleets.

Transportation and Air Quality

Texas Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Program
Under the terms of a settlement between the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the State of California, and Volkswagen (VW) VW agreed to pay approximately $2.9 billion to mitigate emissions associated with discovery of emission defeat devices. A minimum of $209 million was allocated to Texas for projects that reduce nitrogen oxides (NOX) in the environment.

The Beneficiary Mitigation Plan for Texas prepared by the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality (TECQ) details the eligible areas, allocation of funds and grant process. The grants under this program will be solicited through a Request for Grant Applications process and be offered with under a first-come, first-served process or competitive-selection process. Grant applications and instructions will be provided on the Texas Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Program website.

Clean Cities Coalition Network
The Clean Cities coalition is a program of the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO). The network of over 100 local coalitions work to advance affordable alternative fuels and advanced vehicles technologies. Clean Cities coalitions have saved more than 8.5 billion gallons of petroleum since its inception in 1993.

Four local Clean Cities coalitions are currently working in major populations in Texas serving over 19 million Texans. Their cumulative impact annual impact is a reduction of over 55 million gasoline gallons equivalents and 170,000 tons of CO2 equivalent emissions. Each local coalition offers tools, support, and coordinates alternative fuel and efficient transportation projects.

Transportation Demand Management Strategies

Improving Travel Efficiency at the Local Level: An ACEEE Policy Toolkit
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s (ACEEE) 2012 report Improving Travel Efficiency at the Local Level provides profiles of policies and strategies to increase transportation choice, reduce automobile trips, and decrease energy consumption in the transportation sector. Policy profiles are divided into four main categories:

  • Policies to integrate land use and transportation
  • Multimodal infrastructure policies
  • Pricing policies
  • Mode shift policies.

NCTCOG Transportation Demand Management
Travel Demand Management (TDM) incorporates strategies such as ridesharing, transit, biking, walking, telecommuting, and flexible work schedules to reduce the number of vehicles on roadways. The North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) coordinates transportation demand management programs in North Texas which can serve as a model for other regions. Their TDM website includes information on the North Texas Regional Vanpool Program; the Regional Employer Trip Reduction Program; – the region’s ride-matching and commute tracking website; a network of park-and-ride facilities; and several Transportation Management Associations (TMA).

Transportation Electrification and Alternative Fuels

UTSA Electrification of Transportation Research
Researchers at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) Texas Sustainable Energy Research Institute are examining various approaches to enable wide spread adoption of electric and hybrid vehicles in the San Antonio community.

The objective of this research is to address the following areas:

  • Early adopter segmentation
  • Technology standards for vehicle charging
  • Utility tariff design for electric vehicles
  • Public charging infrastructure location selection criteria and guidelines
  • Municipal rules, regulations and policies for electric vehicles
  • Incentive design and value proposition assessment for promoting and enabling electric vehicle adoption

Texas River Cities Plug-In Electric Vehicle Initiative
Austin Energy, the City of Austin’s municipally owned utility, convened the Texas River Cities Plug-in Electric Vehicle Initiative (TRC) to identify, assess, and summarize key stakeholders’ ongoing activities and future needs critical to successful plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) adoption. The initiative produced a Regional Plan and Final Report detailing infrastructure needs and policy changes to support the adoption of PEVs. It includes needs analysis, best practices, and stakeholder tools to develop the PEV market in the greater Austin and San Antonio region.

Alternative Fuel Life-Cycle Environmental and Economic Transportation (AFLEET) Tool
The Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Clean Cities program and the US Environmental Protection Agency engaged the Argonne National Laboratory (Argonne) to develop a tool to assist metropolitan areas and Clean Cities coalitions in estimating criteria air pollutant reductions achieved by near-term introduction of alternative fueled vehicles. Argonne developed the Alternative Fuel Life-Cycle Environmental and Economic Transportation (AFLEET) Tool which allows users to estimate petroleum use, greenhouse gas emissions, air pollutant emissions, and costs of ownership for light-duty vehicles (LDVs) and heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs).

AFLEET Tool provides four calculation methods depending on the user’s goals

  • The Simple Payback Calculator examines acquisition and annual operating costs to calculate a simple payback for purchasing a new Alternative Fuel Vehicle as well as average annual petroleum use, GHGs, and air pollutant emissions.
  • The Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) Calculator evaluates the net present value of operating and fixed costs over the years of planned ownership of a new vehicle, as well as lifetime petroleum use, GHGs, and air pollutant emissions.
  • The Fleet Footprint Calculator estimates the annual petroleum use, GHGs, and air pollutant emissions of existing and new vehicles, taking into consideration that older vehicles typically have higher air pollutant emission rates than newer ones.
  • The Idle Reduction (IR) Calculator examines acquisition and annual operating costs to calculate a simple payback for purchasing a new AFV as compared to its conventional counterpart, as well as average annual petroleum use, GHGs, and air pollutant emissions.

Electric Car Calculator:
The calculator helps consumers evaluate electric vehicle purchase decisions by comparing the financial and environmental costs of buying an electric car versus buying a hybrid or standard gas powered car. 

Additional Assistance

SPEER provides technical assistance to local governments looking to reduce their energy and water consumption.  Contact SPEER and we can help you start your local energy plan, as well as communicate the benefits of your energy and water efficiency initiatives.