Committee on the Environment

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The AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE®) works to advance, disseminate, and advocate design practices that integrate built and natural systems and enhance both the design quality and environmental performance of the built environment. Expand your positive impact: Explore the COTE Top Ten Toolkit. Engage in our advocacy efforts. Enjoy our latest newsletter (and follow us on Twitter).

US Transportation is the Leading Cause of Climate Change

  • 1.  US Transportation is the Leading Cause of Climate Change

    Posted 27 days ago

     

    It is common to speak about US transportation woes in terms of failing infrastructure, congested roadways, the lack of high speed rail and rising pedestrian fatalities. The ever more pressing issue of climate change moves transportation into focus for its impact on the environment.
    New York traffic

    In the US, as in many other countries, transportation has become the largest source of greenhouse gases. Starting in 2016 the U.S. transportation sector - which includes cars, trucks, planes, trains, and boats - emitted with 1.9 billion tons of CO2 annually more greenhouse gas than the electric power sector 1.8 billions tons. Contrary to what one would expect, not trucks, trains or ships are the biggest polluters, the vast majority of emissions come from light duty vehicles, i.e. cars and vans. In other words, nothing would protect the  environment and decrease carbon emissions more than a reduction of the US transportation footprint. 

    Usually a distinction is made between greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and pollutants affecting human health. Mobile sources such  as transportation are also a major contributors of pollutants affecting human health, such as particulates, sulfur and NOx. Diesel and small two stroke engines from lawn equipment are especially bad polluters, light duty vehicles have been cleaned up a good bit since lead has been removed from gasoline fuel some 50 years ago and catalytic converters have become mandatory.
    Nearly one half of all Americans-an estimated 150 million-live in areas that don't meet federal air quality standards. Passenger vehicles and heavy-duty trucks are a major source of this pollution, which includes ozone, particulate matter, and other smog-forming emissions.The health risks of air pollution are extremely serious. Poor air quality increases respiratory ailments like asthma and bronchitis, heightens the risk of life-threatening conditions like cancer, and burdens our health care system with substantial medical costs. Particulate matter is singlehandedly responsible for up to 30,000 premature deaths each year.
    Smog formation from vehicle emissions and other sources

    Passenger vehicles are a major pollution contributor, .... READ FULL ARTICLE


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    [Klaus] Philipsen FAIA
    Archplan Inc. Philipsen Architects
    Baltimore MD
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