Skip to content U.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway AdministrationU.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway Administration
Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)

Air Quality and Sustainability Highlights

Fall 2013

Prepared by the Office of Planning, Environment and Realty
Federal Highway Administration

Recent Events and Reports

President Obama Issues Executive Order on Preparing for Impacts of Climate Change. The Executive Order -- Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change, issued on November 1, directs federal agencies to: remove barriers that discourage actions to increase resilience; reform policies and funding programs that may increase vulnerability; support and encourage smarter, more climate-resilient investments by states and communities, including through guidance, grants, technical assistance, performance measures, and safety considerations; and report on progress through agency adaptation plans. The order directs federal agencies to work together to develop and provide data and decision-support tools on climate preparedness and resilience. It establishes a federal, interagency Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience to coordinate federal actions, replacing the current Interagency Climate Adaptation Task Force. And it establishes a State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience to provide recommendations to the federal government on climate preparedness.

FHWA Releases Handbook on Estimating GHG Emissions in Planning. The Handbook for Estimating Transportation Greenhouse Gases for Integration into the Planning Process provides approaches, resources, and step-by-step procedures for estimating greenhouse gas emissions at the statewide and metropolitan planning levels. The Handbook is intended to be user friendly, particularly for State DOTs and MPOs that have limited experience with emissions analysis. The handbook was developed with input from DOT and MPO practitioners throughout the country.

FHWA Testing Construction and Maintenance GHG Emissions Calculator. FHWA is currently pilot testing a calculator to help transportation agencies develop simplified estimates of infrastructure-related energy and GHG emissions. The tool can be used to evaluate both transportation plan and project alternatives; it can also be used to estimate the benefits of alternative construction and maintenance practices. The draft tool is currently being pilot tested by three DOTs and three MPOs. For more information on the calculator, contact John Davies at, or Jeff Houk at

NCHRP Guide Details Renewable Energy Options for Highway Maintenance Facilities. NCHRP Report 751, Renewable Energy Guide for Highway Maintenance Facilities is a comprehensive guide, including chapters on general considerations, financing, applicability, best practices, and case studies, and detailed chapters on specific renewable energy technologies.

AASHTO Holds National Symposium on Impacts of Extreme Events to Transportation. The AASHTO 2013 Extreme Weather Events Symposium, held May 21-22 in Washington, DC, brought together State DOT staff from around the country and a wide range of disciplines to talk about recent and potential future extreme events. Presentations and a summary of the symposium are available on the event website.

IPCC Releases first of three sections of Assessment Report. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the first of three sections of their assessment report on September 30, 2013. The report reinforces earlier conclusions: "warming of the climate system is unequivocal," "it is extremely likely that human influence is dominant cause of the observed warming," and "limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions." The report's sea level rise projections are higher than the previous report because they include projections of surface ice melting. The report includes new emissions scenarios based on potential mitigation policies and presents a global "carbon budget," reflecting levels of future greenhouse gas emissions that would limit the most severe effects of climate change.

FHWA and Partners Kick Off Central New Mexico Scenario Planning Project: An Inter-agency Transportation, Land Use, and Climate Change Initiative. FHWA led a group of federal agency sponsors in kicking off a climate change and scenario planning project with the Mid-Region Council of Governments (MRCOG) in Albuquerque, NM. The project will inform transportation and land use decision-making in the Albuquerque metropolitan area by using scenario planning to analyze strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change impacts. The project will utilize lessons learned from an earlier study that focused on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Post Sandy Transportation Resilience Research Project Underway. FHWA is working with the three state DOTs, four MPOs, and other partners in the NY-NJ-CT region on a research project to improve the long term resilience of the region's transportation system. The project will analyze the impacts of recent storms on transportation infrastructure in the area; conduct a gap analysis and identify lessons learned from Hurricane Sandy; develop a region-wide, multi-modal transportation vulnerability assessment; and conduct engineering-based assessments of options for improving resilience for a representative set of up to ten transportation assets.

State and Local News

Florida DOT GIS Tool Helps Assess Facilities Vulnerable to SLR. The ArcGIS based Sea Level Rise Sketch Planning Tool developed by researchers at the University of Florida for FDOT can be used to preliminarily assess vulnerability of state or regional transportation systems to relative sea level rise and tidal changes. The comprehensive accompanying report, Development of a Geographic Information System (GIS) Tool for the Preliminary Assessment of the Effects of Predicted Sea Level and Tidal Change on Transportation Infrastructure, details the data layers included and the tool functionality.


FHWA/AASHTO Webinar: Asset Management and Adaptation to Climate Change and Extreme Weather Events, Wednesday, November 13, 2013, 2:00 PM ET. This webinar explores transportation asset management in the context of climate change and extreme weather events. Adaptation to climate change and extreme weather events presents an emerging set of asset management challenges and opportunities. Cases included as part of this webinar will highlight successful adaptation strategies, tools, and approaches. Webinar speakers will frame some of the key opportunities for state DOTs and share specific lessons learned drawn from the experiences of states at the forefront of these issues. Register online. The webinar is the 7th in a Transportation Asset Management Webinar Series sponsored by FHWA and AASHTO.

Webinar Posted: Climate Impacts on Future Pavement Performance and Maintenance Costs. Jo Daniel of UNH and Rajib Mallick of Worcester Polytech presented on the impacts of climate change to pavement performance, the importance of considering these impacts in planning, design, and construction, and the implications for pavement management costs. This was the third in a series of webinars put on by the Infrastructure & Climate Network (ICNet).

If you have any suggestions for inclusion in future issues of Transportation and Climate Change News, or if someone forwarded this newsletter to you and you'd like to receive it directly in the future, please send your suggestions or request to Becky Lupes at

FHWA HQ Climate Change Contacts in the Office of Planning, Environment & Realty:

Office of Natural Environment, Sustainable Transport & Climate Change Team
Mike Culp, Team Leader,
John Davies,, GHG emissions analysis, modeling, performance measures
Connie Hill Galloway,, sustainability, brownfields and hazardous waste sites
Tina Hodges,, adaptation, sustainability
Heather Holsinger,, sustainability, adaptation, GHG emissions analysis, energy
Rob Hyman,, adaptation, sustainability, GHG emissions analysis
Rob Kafalenos,, adaptation, energy
Becky Lupes,, adaptation, GHG emissions analysis, NEPA
Diane Turchetta,, GHG emissions analysis, energy

Office of Planning
Robin Smith,
Jody McCullough,

Office of Project Development & Environmental Review
Bruce Bender,

Updated: 12/27/2016
HEP Home Planning Environment Real Estate
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000