Susan Shaheen

CEE 256: Transportation Sustainability

Offered in spring semester

OVERVIEW: As a major user of fossil fuels, the transportation sector in the U.S. is becoming increasingly unsustainable and is a leading contributor to the atmosphere of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions from human activity. Transportation accounts for approximately 14 percent of total anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions globally, 27 percent in the U.S. and 40 percent in California. The U.S. uses approximately 25 percent of the petroleum employed in the world but only has about five percent of the world’s population. Transportation technologies, demand management, and land use strategies are emerging that can help to meet climate and energy security challenges.

Sustainability became a prominent issue in 1987 when the Brundtland Commission in Our Common Future defined sustainability as the ability to “meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” The three pillars of sustainability are: 1) environment, 2) economic efficiency, and 3) social equity. This class touches upon each in developing sustainable transportation strategies.

The key question motivating this course is how to address auto and oil dependency in light of resource constraints and growing evidence of climate change. There is no “magic bullet” solution, and this class concentrates on exploring options in light of a variety of goals (e.g., efficiency, equity). The class focuses on public policy, travel demand management strategies, land use, and technology in addressing sustainable transportation in an integrated approach. It especially emphasizes the role of technology, human response to technology, and public policy.

This multi-disciplinary course is intended to introduce students to the fundamentals of sustainable transportation, with an emphasis on: 1) current transportation trends; 2) the environmental and energy policy context; 3) methodological and analysis techniques through the group project and final exam; 4) intelligent transportation systems (ITS) solutions; and 5) land use, public transportation, and demand management.