Measuring Sustainable Transportation: Incorporating Social Sustainability Indicators into Transportation Rating Systems

By Michelle Oswald Beiler.

Published by The International Journal of Environmental Sustainability

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Emphasis on sustainable transportation practices throughout the United States is rising. The term “green design” has become well-known throughout the private and public sector with regards to integrating environmentally friendly techniques into the transportation planning process. In response, programs such as Greenroads, STARS (Sustainable Transportation Access Rating System), and GreenLITES (Green Leadership in Transportation Environmental Sustainability) have been developed in order to promote and measure sustainability throughout the transportation sector. The focus of these programs is predominantly on the environmental benefits of sustainable development; however, the social sustainability dimensions related to transportation planning such as safety, equity, and public health are limited. This paper examines existing sustainable transportation rating systems in terms of their incorporation and measurement of social sustainability. Based on a review of existing rating systems, social sustainability indicators for transportation are developed and synthesized in order to be integrated into sustainable transportation rating systems. Recommendations for integration, including the use of a decision analysis tool for prioritizing the indicators and implementation of a pilot phase, are provided. Through identifying social sustainability indicators, planners can integrate social dimensions such as equity, social cohesion, safety, accessibility, public health and prosperity into transportation planning projects.

Keywords: Social Sustainability, Transportation, Rating System, Indicators, Green Design

The International Journal of Environmental Sustainability, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp.101-114. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 319.711KB).

Dr. Michelle Oswald Beiler

Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA, USA

Michelle Oswald, a LEED AP and EIT, is an Assistant Professor in civil and environmental engineering at Bucknell University. She has completed her doctoral degree in civil engineering with a concentration in transportation engineering at the University of Delaware. She has also completed a Master of Arts in urban and regional planning as well as a Master in Civil Engineering at the University of Delaware, specializing in sustainable transportation planning. She received a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering from Lafayette College. Her research is focused on sustainable transportation rating systems, climate change adaptation, and resilient transportation corridors.