Life Cycle Assessment for Complete Streets: Framework and Pilot Studies

Complete streets are being advocated for urban areas and offer the potential for environmental, public health and economic benefits. Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a method of quantifying environmental impacts in a transparent and context-sensitive manner following recognized standards. LCA for transportation projects currently lacks socio-economic impact indicators. The purpose of this project is to develop a framework for LCA of complete streets project, including the development of draft socio-economic impact indicators, and then test it using several case studies. This project is intended to be the first step towards the development of standardized guidelines for the conduct of social and environmental LCAs for complete streets to be used with life cycle cost analysis to produce a complete, transparent and quantitative picture of a complete street project, including interdependencies between impacts. The conceptual framework can serve as a check for the Caltrans Complete Streets Implementation Action Plan that will allow decision-makers to address, or at minimum consider, all aspects of complete streets and also identify unintended consequences. The system boundaries are expected to consider impacts of changes beyond just the street itself to its role and effects on the entire neighborhood, and the project within the road network.

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