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Step 3: Set Up for Scenario Planning: Evaluation Tools, Data and Building Blocks

Step 3 Summary

View the full Scenario Planning Guidelines (PDF).

Step 3 provides an overview of the recommended tools that allow for creation and comparison of land use and transportation scenarios. Setting up the tools and gathering the data in this step will set the stage for developing and evaluating scenarios in Steps 4 and 5.

Recommended scenario planning tools include:

  • Metropolitan GreenSTEP (PDF) is used to model a number of high-level policy scenarios for impacts on transportation GHG emissions and other related evaluation measures, as defined by local community values. When Metropolitan GreenSTEP is used initially by itself, a range of geographically generalized land use and transportation policies that a local area might want to pursue can be tested, such as:
    • Urban characteristics: density, mixed use, public transportation, non-motorized transportation, parking management. Road characteristics: the supply of freeways and other arterials and the management of operations.
    • Marketing characteristics: such as the deployment of employer-side and household-side travel demand management programs, eco-driving, low-rolling resistance tires, and pay-as-you-drive insurance.
    • Metropolitan GreenSTEP can be used to evaluate the implications of changes in the vehicle fleet, vehicle and fuel technologies, and various types of pricing.
  • A sketch planning tool is used to report various land use, housing and environmental measures based on designated building blocks that describe the different types of land uses that exist within the metropolitan area or are planned for the future. This process allows convenient comparisons of the impacts of different land use and transportation arrangements.
    • Data, such as the transportation network and the geographic scale, are displayed on a base map that will serve as a guide when painting scenarios.
    • The size of the metropolitan area and the resources available often dictate how coarse or fine the geographic planning units should be.
    • Much more detail about the recommended building blocks (i.e. building types, FAR, number of stories, parking factors, street network, level of transit service or other key characteristics used by sketch planning tools to generate estimates of outcomes) is provided in the Technical Appendix (PDF).
  • After developing geographically detailed scenarios using sketch planning tools, Metropolitan GreenSTEP is again used to evaluate transportation GHG emissions and other evaluation measures.

Set a Base Year and Future Planning Year

Scenario planning is an opportunity to engage in a long-range visioning process that looks beyond normal planning processes and timelines. Using a longer planning period enables a community to see the cumulative impacts of current trends more clearly. It also allows the community to consider a broader range of options, which may take more time to implement, given that major changes in land use and transportation patterns take a long time. A base year scenario will approximate existing conditions in the metropolitan area using data from that time period, which officials and public stakeholders can verify and confirm. The base year provides a benchmark for comparison of existing conditions with the reference case and future alternative scenarios.