By Sylvia Wright • ITS-Davis senior director of communications
The University of California, Davis, Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS-Davis) was selected in a national competition in September 2013 to lead a new two-year, $11.2 million research, education, and outreach consortium for the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The new National Center for Sustainable Transportation will help federal, state, regional, and local agencies reduce the greenhouse-gas emissions from passenger and freight travel that contribute to climate change through research in four thematic areas: toward zero-emission vehicle and fuel technologies; low-carbon infrastructure and efficient system operation; low-impact travel and sustainable land use; and institutional change.
The other consortium members are University of California, Riverside (UC Riverside); University of Southern California (USC); California State University, Long Beach (CSULB); University of Vermont (UVM); and Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech).
“The United States has sharply reduced many of the transportation sector’s most damaging environmental impacts on air, water, natural ecosystems and human health,” said UC Davis professor of environmental science and policy Susan Handy, who is director of the UC Davis Urban Land Use and Transportation Center, and will be the director of the new National Center for Sustainable Transportation.
“However, one major impact that hasn’t received enough attention is climate change, which is a game changer. Fortunately, almost all strategies to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from transportation also improve economic efficiency, energy security, social equity, livability and health,” Handy said.
The National Center will receive $5.6 million from the U.S. DOT and $5.6 million in matching funds from state, regional and local agencies to support its research. In California, matching funds have been promised by Caltrans, the California Air Resources Board, and the South Coast Air Quality Management District.
“The goal of the National Center is to transform the transportation system to improve environmental sustainability nationwide. We aim to provide leadership that produces meaningful action by mobilizing innovative research teams and partnering with influential stakeholders,” said Dan Sperling, director of ITS-Davis, and the new national center’s executive director.
The National Center will:
The UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies is the world’s leading university program on sustainable transportation.
Handy is the former director of the U.S. DOT-funded Sustainable Transportation Center, a predecessor to the new national center, and a member of many TRB standing and conference committees. She is on the board of the World Society of Transportation and Land Use Research and the editorial boards of seven international peer-reviewed journals. She has authored over 75 peer-reviewed articles, 10 book chapters, and 70 research reports and other publications.
Sperling is a member of the Executive Committee of the U.S. Transportation Research Board (TRB), chaired the University Transportation Center National Spotlight Conference on Sustainable Energy and Transportation in 2012, is the 2013 chairman of the California Fuel Cell Partnership, is a board member of the California Air Resources Board, has served on 13 National Research Council (NRC) committees on transportation and environmental topics, chaired the first transportation committee of the Davos World Economic Forum (2010), testified to Congress seven times, and has authored 12 books and over 200 technical papers and reports.
The other consortium institutions also have distinguished accomplishments:
U.S. Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield), a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, congratulated UC Davis on the grant. “UC Davis is a recognized leader in cutting-edge research to reduce our impact on climate change,” he said in a statement. “This is the second big federal grant in a week for such research at UC Davis, following the $1.5 million ARPA-E grant to convert ethylene to a liquid fuel, and I couldn’t be happier for the researchers, administrators and students involved.”
Photo: UC Davis professor of environmental science and policy Susan Handy, who is director of the UC Davis Urban Land Use and Transportation Center, will be the director of the new National Center for Sustainable Transportation. Photo credit: Dorian Toy, UC Davis 2014