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34 A Guidebook for Sustainability Performance Measurement for Transportation Agencies Chapter 8 Examples of Practice in Sustainability Measurement Many agencies Many transportation agencies currently implement various implement programs programs for sustainability and sustainability performance for sustainability and measurement. Fourteen transportation agencies were selected for performance detailed case studies as part of this research. Another emerging measurement, topic in sustainability performance measurement application including rating systems for deals with the development of rating systems for sustainability. sustainability. The The first part of this chapter describes the findings from the case case studies illustrate studies. The second part summarizes existing rating systems in the wide variety of practice. approaches to address sustainability, as well as common themes WHAT ARE SOME AGENCIES DOING? and challenges. In developing this user's guide, the following agencies were interviewed to learn about how they were integrating the concept of sustainability into their programs and policies: · State Departments of Transportation - California Department of Transportation - Colorado Department of Transportation - Florida Department of Transportation - Minnesota Department of Transportation - New York State Department of Transportation - Oregon Department of Transportation - Washington State Department of Transportation
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Examples of Practice in Sustainability Measurement 35 · Metropolitan Planning Organizations - Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) - Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) - Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) · Other Agencies or Municipalities - Hampton Roads Transit - City of Alexandria, VA · International Agencies - Swedish Road Administration - United Kingdom Highways Agency These agencies represent a range of agency types, sizes, and geographic coverage. Table 5 summarizes how each agency defines sustainability, the related programs described in the case studies, and any highlights or unique attributes. These case studies served as the foundation for the development of the sustainability performance measures framework. They illustrate the wide variety of approaches that different agencies are using to address sustainability; they also point to common themes and challenges. As illustrated in Table 5, the agencies have adopted a range of different working definitions of sustainability. Several agencies focus on the long-range effect of program decisions, specifically on an assessment of the impact on future generations. While some agencies use some version of the triple bottom line to gauge sustainability (i.e., assessing outcomes by environmental, economic, and social criteria), others consider sustainability as primarily an environmental metric. Finally, agencies vary in the scope and scale of consideration of sustainability, ranging from a focus on project-level assessments to more program-level or landscape-scale reviews. The following text provides an overview of these agencies' approaches, looking first at agencies in the United States and then at some international organizations. Appendix F provides more detailed information on each agency in the case study summaries. The research report further documents the screening process employed to identify the case studies, case study approach, and methodology. Domestic Agencies and Sustainability: Trends and Conditions Perspectives on sustainability are in flux across agencies in the United States, marked by a surge in support and new initiatives as well as some skepticism. · The public is getting on board Public opinion and awareness are shifting toward an understanding and support of sustainability. This shift will help encourage more DOTs to begin to program and measure sustainability. · Legislative mandates are common In many states, legislative direction is the impetus for sustainability program development. Agencies also report that support from the leadership is a key to success, and commonly these two go hand in hand.
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36 A Guidebook for Sustainability Performance Measurement for Transportation Agencies Table 5. Summary of sustainability efforts at selected U.S. and international agencies. Agency Definition of Programs/Offices Notes/Highlights Sustainability Highlighted California Ensuring that · Smart Mobility Caltrans is managing many Department of environmental, Framework programs that relate to Transportation social, health, and California aspects of sustainability and economic Transportation Plan span regional and statewide considerations are · Regional levels. They are relatively factored into Blueprints well advanced in measuring decisions about · California Progress these concepts. The agency transportation Report is working to begin to activities. · Strategic Growth implement projects that will Council bring to fruition those goals · Transportation and objectives identified in System Information the strategic planning and · Office of Strategic policy documents. Planning and Performance Measurement Colorado No official agency · Environmental CDOT is engaged with an Department of definition, but Stewardship Guide interagency working group, Transportation following general · TERC's TERC, which has concept of the United Sustainability established a sustainability Nations Brundtland Subcommittee subcommittee. The group is Commission · Greening Council attempting to establish the definition (i.e., greening principles of sustainability meeting the needs of government for all state agencies, and the present without initiative from there determine how compromising the · I-70 corridor they should affect ability to meet future sustainability transportation policies and needs). applications programs. Florida As defined in the · Florida FDOT has been on the Department of 2025 Florida Transportation Plan forefront of tracking and Transportation Transportation Plan: · Strategic Intermodal measuring performance; (FDOT) "Meeting the needs System however, the agency has not of the present without · Metropolitan yet classified any current compromising the Planning measures as sustainability ability to meet the · Regional Visioning measures. Throughout needs of the future." · Efficient agency practices there are Transportation many activities that could Decision Making fall under a sustainability · Executive Order umbrella. 07-126
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Examples of Practice in Sustainability Measurement 37 Table 5. Continued. Agency Definition of Progra ms/ Offices Notes/Highlights Sustainability Highlighted Minnesota No o fficial d efinition, · State transportation Mn DOT is a leader in Dep artment of although the agency's plan performance-based Transportation vision refers to a · Internal strategic planning. Many of the (MnDOT) "safe, efficient, and planning existing measures relate to sustainable sustainability, but the transportation agency has not grouped system." them as such. New York State A transportation Green LITES Green LITES was designed Dep artment of system that supports as a certification program Transportation a sustainable society for new highway miles. is one that: Ho wev er, NYSDOT · Allows individual realized that this program and societal has limited impact, and a transportation new program-lev el needs to be met in approach is under way. a manner consistent with human and ecosystem h ealth, with equity within and bet ween generations. · Is safe, affordable, accessible, operates efficiently, offers choice of transport mode, and supports a vibrant economy. · Protects, preserves, and enhances the environment by limiting transportation emissions and wastes , minimizes the consumption of resources, and enhances the existing environment as practicable.
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38 A Guidebook for Sustainability Performance Measurement for Transportation Agencies Table 5. Continued. Agency Definition of Progra ms/ Offices Notes/Highlights Sustainability Highlighted Oregon Using, developing, · Sustainability Plan ODOT is institutionalizing Dep artment of and protecting and Implementation the concept o f sustainability Transportation resources in a manner · ODOT through the development of (ODOT) that enables people to Sustainability an integrated strategic meet current needs Council sustainability program and while providing for · Oregon an implemented future generations to Transportation Plan sustainability plan. Through meet their needs, Goal these actions, sustainability from the joint · Environmental will beco me a guiding perspective of Manag ement principle for the agency. environment, System ODOT does not view economic, and · Office of Innovative sustainability as an impact, community Partnerships and but instead as an objectives. Alternative Funding opportunity to improve efficiency . The sustainability plan identifies the need for measuring the agency's prog ress on implementation and identifies measures, but much of the d ata required for tracking are not currently being collected. Washington State In the process of All programs relate to WSDOT has a significant Dep artment of defining sustainability, but three history of tracking Transportation sustainability. offices lead the effort: performance measures in (WSDOT) Public Transportation, their Grey Notebook. Strategic Planning and Ho wev er, they are only Programming, and currently developing Environmental and sustainability performance Engineering Programs measures and determining ways to measure them and implement them into decision making.
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Examples of Practice in Sustainability Measurement 39 Table 5. Continued. Agency Definition of Progra ms/ Offices Notes/Highlights Sustainability Highlighted Chicago Can be used in one of CMAP believes that CMAP d efines all 250 Metropolitan three ways: sustainability cuts performance measures as Agen cy for · Sustainability across all program sustainability measures. Planning requires that any areas . GO TO 2040 is Evaluation of the public policy or the specific p rogram sustainability of planned investment meet area highlighted for projects and ongoing certain this case study. monitoring of the region's environmental, sustainability are no w economic, and central to CMAP's way o f social equity goals. doing business. · Sustainability meets the needs of the present without compro mising the needs of the future. · Sustainability regards the total wealth of society as capital that should be preserved or increased, including natural capital, hu man capital, and man- made capital, in addition to financial wealth. Mid-Ohio Meeting the needs o f · The Green Pact · MORPC reports that it Regional the present without Program, run by the has been considering Planning compro mising the Center of En ergy & sustainability for Commission ability of future Environment decades, calling it "good generations to meet · Complete Streets planning." In recent their own needs. · Public Policy years, MORPC has Agenda promoted sustainability · State of the Region performance indicators reports through its annual State · Long-Range Plan of the Region reports.
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40 A Guidebook for Sustainability Performance Measurement for Transportation Agencies Table 5. Continued. Agency Definition of Progra ms/ Offices Notes/Highlights Sustainability Highlighted Metropolitan No agency-wid e Region Forward report Region Forward is a policy- Washington definition, but as level visioning study that Council of one of the guiding identifies the region's Governments principles in a recent shared goals for land use, policy study: transportation, environment, healthy air, water, climate and en ergy, and land; abundant economy, housing, renewable energy education, health, and sources; and a public safety. Th e con cepts smaller carbon have yet to be integrat ed footprint. into actual planning and policy decisions, but are meant to provide guidance and encourage new ways of thinking about those processes. Hampton Sustainability to HRT · Environmental The EMS has been Roads Transit is about making a management system developed to guide all (HRT) more livable (EMS) agency practices toward community now and · APTA's sustainability. The EMS is in the future by Sustainability new, and HRT has set providing accessible, Commitment modest goals and plans to efficient, and · International build upon them each year environmentally Association of as the initial goals are met. friendly public Public Transport APTA's Sustainability transportation Charter on Commitment is h elping to services and Sustainable guide HRT's p rograms. operating their Development vehicles and facilities · Hybrid Vehicles & according to policies Clean Fuel and procedures that · Energy Reduction promote pollution Lighting Program prevention, climate protection, and energy and resource conservation.
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Examples of Practice in Sustainability Measurement 41 Table 5. Continued. Agency Definition of Progra ms/ Offices Notes/Highlights Sustainability Highlighted City of Sustainability is Environmental Action Alexandria is working to Alexandria, VA progress that meets Plan 2030 use the Environmental the needs of the Action Plan to incorporate present without the concepts of compro mising the sustainability into its Master ability of future Plan and Area Plans. generations to meet their needs. A sustainable community is an environmentally, economically, and socially healthy place where p eople can live, work, and play for decades to come. Swedish Road No o fficial agency · Strategic Plan Sustainability has been part Ad ministration definition; one of six · Annual Score Cards of the transport policy in goals is a sustainable · Goals and Metrics Sweden since the late 1980s environment: a good Database and is incorporated into all environment where · Annual Report aspects of planning and the design and · Annual Sectoral programming. performance of the Report road transport is to · Annual Action Plan contribute to achieving environmental quality targets. High ways The agency's actions · Sustainable Sustainable development Agen cy must support five Development Action has been considered in (England, UK) overarching goals of Plan (SDAP) management goals since the UK-wide · SDAP Progress 2005 when the agency began strategy: Report corporate responsibility · Living within · Business monthly reporting. The agency has environmental report card efforts that cut across all limits; · Corporate Social program areas related to · Ensuring a Responsibility sustainability, and it sees this strong, healthy, Report focus as a realignment rather and just society; than a revolution. · Achieving a sustainable economy; · Promoting good governance; and · Using sound science responsibly.
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42 A Guidebook for Sustainability Performance Measurement for Transportation Agencies · Sustainability has roots in many program areas Sustainability programs are emerging out of other, long-standing efforts. Agencies are beginning to see the benefit of bringing the concepts under a single umbrella of sustainability. For example, Colorado DOT's environmental stewardship guide is expanding to include concepts such as livability and is thus getting closer to the concept of sustainability. · Sustainability is just a new word On the other hand, some agencies see the concept of sustainability as simply a new trend, repackaging long-standing concepts. Some argue that it has always been important; it used to simply be called "good planning." Domestic Agency Challenges As agencies work to incorporate sustainability principles, several themes have emerged about the challenges these agencies face. · Turning goals into measurable actions Many agencies are able to identify, agree upon, and set goals that include concepts of sustainability but are finding it more difficult to implement programs that will help lead to achieving these goals. Identifying ways to effectively track progress toward these goals is also challenging. · Understanding trade-offs Agencies are struggling with how to understand, measure, and track the interrelationships among aspects of sustainability and how to determine the implications of these trade-offs. · Outside agency scope Achieving sustainability requires the cooperation of many agencies and entities with a range of responsibilities. Transportation agencies are contending with how to make an impact when the outcomes sought are tied to a set of conditions with many inputs and causes. For example, DOTs feel that many of the issues need to be addressed by local government agencies and are not within their jurisdiction. There is still a lack of understanding of how transportation agency policy and practices fit into the broader concept of sustainability and disagreement about what should be the appropriate institutional roles of transportation agencies. · Measurement at the project level Agencies find that it is easier to consider impacts to sustainability on a regional scale and difficult to measure on a project-by-project basis. · Data consistency The availability of consistent and reliable data among jurisdictions can be a limiting factor in sustainability performance measurement. · Prioritization In the recent economic downturn, some agencies concluded that they had no choice but to put sustainability on the back burner as they struggled with budget cuts and other competing priorities. Domestic Agency Best Practices The growing experience and success of transportation agencies in integrating sustainability into their work provide several lessons that can be useful guidance to other agencies. · Start with a big-picture perspective Since sustainability is a comprehensive concept and has a wide span of effects, agencies find it useful to step away from the DOT perspective and take a wide view. For example, some agencies start by establishing a
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Examples of Practice in Sustainability Measurement 43 definition of a sustainable society. From there they can look for ways to measure whether the transportation system is supporting a sustainable society rather than trying to use their established procedures within a set of sustainability principles. Agencies have found that it can be more effective to begin at the programmatic level and have the policies affect the project level. For example, the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) has decided to build on its project-level experience with the GreenLITES (Green Leadership in Transportation Environmental Sustainability) initiative to develop more programmatic approaches. CMAP defines all of its 250 performance measures as sustainability measures and considers all of its activities within that framework. A regional perspective can also alleviate the issue that some areas of a region are going to more easily meet some targets (e.g., environmental targets), while other targets (e.g., housing) are easier for other areas. This regional perspective can be critical to achieving sustainability goals. · Provide strong, committed leadership Agency leadership, in addition to a commitment from the political and business stakeholders, is critical to success. · Use interagency working groups Bringing together representatives from state agencies can be an effective way to establish an overarching set of accepted sustainability principles and coordinate interrelated activities across the state. For example, Colorado DOT (CDOT) participates in the state's Transportation and Environmental Resource Council (TERC), which is attempting to establish the overall principles of sustainability. CDOT will then determine how these principles apply to transportation and revise their programs and policies in accordance. · Establish intra-agency coordination All agencies in the case studies identified the fact that addressing sustainability does not fit neatly into one department's responsibility. Establishing clear coordination among agency departments is critical. For example, Washington State DOT has designated the departments of Public Transportation, Strategic Planning and Programming, and Environmental and Engineering Programs as leaders in the effort to integrate sustainability. · Serve as a technical resource DOTs are in a prime position to provide technical assistance to local agencies that are required to track certain measurements. Florida DOT serves in this capacity for MPOs in their measurement of greenhouse gases. · Commit sufficient resources It is essential to have at least one dedicated staff member who can focus on sustainability. Additional resources must be dedicated at an appropriate level. These resources do not necessarily have to be significant, but they must be in line with the agency's program goals. Expecting too much out of too little will ensure failure. · Commit to a long-term sustainability effort Over time, priorities may shift, strategies are likely to need modification, and measures may change. Agencies need to be flexible and continue to evaluate their tracking and measurement programs as their experience grows, as they evaluate the effectiveness of their efforts, and as the conditions in which they work evolve. · Link sustainability to funding Successful implementation programs are linked to funding requirements. Agencies struggle to achieve progress using voluntary programs that lack meaningful incentives for regional or local agency participation.
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44 A Guidebook for Sustainability Performance Measurement for Transportation Agencies · Reach high It can be appropriate to have aspirational performance targets; they may require a major change in behavior, but at least they provide the basis to push for change and move away from the status quo. · Adopt targets Goals and indicators should be accompanied by targets, which give agencies and the public a sense of where they are headed and how close they are to getting there. International Agency Trends and Conditions The sustainability state of practice varies in countries around the world. The following summarizes the lessons learned from the international agencies that were looked at. · Sustainability has been around In the United Kingdom, the sustainability program simply repackages a lot of what has been going on for a long time. · Sustainability is used as an organizing principle The Swedish Road Administration (SRA) merged with other agencies in April 2010 and is now part of the very large Swedish Transport Administration. This new agency will likely rely heavily on performance measurement for management and will consider sustainability a central organizing principle. · Internal agency acceptance is widespread Adoption of sustainable practices has been well received internally and is in line with the interest of creating a healthier workplace and a more satisfied workforce. International Agency Challenges International agencies identified a few challenges that they find continue to hamper progress and need additional work. · Difficult concepts to measure Agencies are still struggling with how to measure everything in a meaningful way. For example, it is difficult to effectively measure gender equality in transport. · Implementing the information Sustainability performance measures are often cited by decision makers, but it is still unclear how much they actually influence the decisions that are made. Many staffers understand the overall mission but do not clearly understand how it relates directly to their work. · Cost In some cases it can be difficult to prove that the higher cost to achieve a sustainability outcome is worth the trade-off; in other cases sustainable practices are synonymous with cost savings. International Agency Best Practices Looking at the experience of international agencies provides some additional lessons that may be applicable to U.S. agencies. · Full implementation is a goal Sustainability has been implemented by agencies as both a top-down and bottom-up approach; now agencies are moving toward a fuller integration
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Examples of Practice in Sustainability Measurement 45 of sustainability in their work so that it becomes business as usual. Sustainability is not considered in isolation but is found within all areas of the agency's programs and policies. SRA has attempted to report performance on the transport policy objective as a whole, capturing all aspects of sustainability within one metric. In the United Kingdom, agencies are attempting to tie in transport practices with the general sustainability program for all agencies. They are finding useful synergies among the business units. · Neutrality promotes trust A neutral body compiles the data and provides a report on performance. This ensures that all involved trust that the performance measures are accurate. · Measurement is the key to progress Objectives are easy and important to establish since they lay out the big picture. However, defining performance measures is crucial. Measures capture whether conditions are changing and point to needed modifications. · Sustainability takes an ongoing, long-term perspective Adoption of sustainable development is a process, not a decision. · Involving the private sector promotes success Success has come from early and active engagement with the private sector supply chain. Setting clear goals and requirements allows the supply chain to innovate before new regulations disrupt practices. · Agency objectives can be distinguished as functional and impact objectives To address the confusion between those goals that can be directly changed by agency activities and those that are a result of those changes, SRA has created two types of objectives: functional and impact. Functional objectives are those immediately within the control of the agency (e.g., improved accessibility as a result of the design and function of the transport system); impact objectives are the resulting benefits of those design changes (e.g., health, safety, and environmental benefits as a result of those same adjustments).