An exemplary sustainable mobility strategy is planned in the early stages of the planning and design process. Analysing the territory, considerations of environment and energy related aspects as well as the site-specific social and economic trends are among the most significant factors to consider while planning an effective sustainable mobility strategy.
Experience and competence are the basic tools of mobility planning specialists to come up with creative and analytical solutions that can be validated using mathematical modelling tools, simulations and computer software. Professionals involved in mobility consultancy often have an adversarial relationship with the sustainability assessment tools and certification systems. The main concern is how to evaluate the accurate sustainability level of a mobility project?
LEED Neighbourhood Development (LEED ND) is one of the most comprehensive and internationally recognized sustainability assessment methods for evaluation of the projects both in design and completion phase. It has the significant advantage of being very transparent in terms of calculating the points for assessing the overall sustainability level of projects. Based on the total number of points achieved, projects are awarded one of the four levels of Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum.
Calculating the points is through checklists that are available from the USGBC (U.S. Green Building Council) website, with summary of manuals free to everyone. Therefore, it can be considered as a valuable guideline regardless of desire to get the certificate.
LEED evaluates the projects across a broad range of criteria that address the sustainability issues, mobility related (directly or indirectly) criteria affect a significant number of prerequisites and credits (45 points out of 110 available points).
The importance and effect of the mobility related decisions and choices on the overall sustainability level of projects and developments is significantly considerable that other tools such as Green Star Australia (Design & As Build) considered to have separate calculator for sustainable transport. In addition, recently developed Estidama Pearl rating system of UAE gives points to different mobility related issues such as public transport, bicycle facilities, parking and travel plan to encourage the modal shift towards public modes of transport.
These sustainability assessment tools promote “sprawl-proof” strategies,” that bind the developments in already developed areas, providing specific definitions of what should be considered “already developed” (ITACA the Italian rating system considers this issue). They also encourage connectivity, which is an issue addressed also by UN-Habitat by analysing 30 world cities.
The ideal neighbourhood is easily accessible with high level of interconnectivity both internal and external. Mass public transit systems, play significant roles in connectivity and increasing sustainability by reducing traffic congestions mainly provoked by private cars, therefore carefully planned system both in quality and quantity of provided services, during peak and off-peak periods is essential. Even the stops and stations location and equipment are important to guarantee the good level of service to commuters.
The mobility related issues are limited to the above-mentioned point, other important factors are; the design of accessibility systems in urban areas, not only in terms of minimum size, but to find solutions to reduce the critical points (percentage of the distance concerned from driveways) for bicycles and pedestrians, shading of the paths and proportions of height of the buildings in relation to the road size.
It is noteworthy that all the different sustainability assessment tools are encouraging the modal shift towards public and active modes of transport to reduce the CO2 and GHG emissions produced mainly by private cars and promote healthier living conditions.
Finally, the truly sustainable future cities and urban areas are not reachable without long-term visions of carefully planned transportation systems through the use of advanced mobility engineering tools.