Developing Environmentally Sustainable Approaches to Maintaining Roads

The Los Angeles Bureau of Street Services (StreetsLA) maintains 23,000 miles of car, bike, and pedestrian lanes per year. After power generation, paving streets is one of the leading producers of greenhouse gas in a municipality’s operations. StreetsLA is committed to finding new ways to pave roads, bike paths and sidewalks that align with the Mayor's “Green New Deal” goal of zero emissions by 2045. To support this work, FUSE Executive Fellow Susan Tarka Sanchez evaluated the air quality impact in the city and provided actionable recommendations to drive down emissions and criteria pollutants.

To inform her work, Susan engaged with various StreetLA divisions and fleet and material testing labs to assess the environmental sustainability of the agency’s operations. She gathered best practices from the cities of Oakland, Sacramento, and Seattle. From her assessment, Susan developed a life cycle assessment (LCA) model, a baseline of emissions and pollution impact. She assisted StreetsLA to quantify carbon emissions and criteria pollution emissions, in addition to evaluating the total “cost” of owning a large, heavy-duty vehicle fleet. Additionally, she piloted drop-in renewable fuels for existing diesel and compressed natural gas vehicles, brought online new hybrid and CNG vehicles, along with other operational changes that produced an emissions reduction of 10% for 2021. Susan used an equity lens to evaluate air quality, analyzing datasets to identify “hotspots” of street operations pollution. Susan is continuing to work with StreetsLA to address vehicle procurement, provide internal training, scale materials innovation pilots, and develop a fleet steering committee. By reducing emissions and pollution, the city is working to improve the quality of life for some of its most vulnerable residents.

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