The I-CHANGE partner Techne Consulting, with the collaboration of other partners, finalised the report Apportionment of environmental footprint as part of the research on Benchmarking behavioral change: apportionment of carbon and environmental footprint. The report includes methodologies and results of the apportionment on environmental footprint.

The term environmental footprint is an umbrella term for the different footprint concepts that have been developed during the past two decades. The terminology is also used in the methodology for Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of products and organisations of the European Commission. Footprints are indicators of pressure of human activities on the environment.

One of the scopes of report has been to understand how to conjugate the complex theme of environmental footprints with data effectively collected by the I-CHANGE Living Labs as well as with a definition functional to their activities. In this frame, the results of the report Tools to analyse and evaluate carbon and environmental footprint have been customised for the purpose of their application to the data retrieved from the Living Labs and to the data processed by the I-CHANGE research on behavioral changes through numerical simulations.

Two classes of footprints have been selected: air pollution environmental footprints and environmental biometeorological footprint.

The following air pollution environmental footprints are defined starting from emission inventories data:

  • Acidification potential (AP);
  • Tropospheric ozone formation potential (TOFP);
  • Aerosol formation potential (AFP).

An important target of the Living Lab activities are the extreme events studies. In this regard, a group of Living Labs is collecting a wide range of meteorological parameters. To improve the suitability of the environmental footprint definition for these I-CHANGE Living Labs, we have extended its original definition to include a set of selected biometeorological indicators to report a synthetic picture of impact of environmental and weather conditions, particularly extreme temperatures, on health. The indexes addresse individual’s perceived temperature, based upon the air temperature and humidity and/or wind speed.

The indicators selected were the following:

  • Apparent temperature;
  • Thom index or Discomfort index;
  • Humidex;
  • Wind Chill.

Finally, the E2GovCmty model was introduced. The model is a customisation of the more general E2Gov model to store data and to evaluate I-CHANGE carbon and environmental footprint.

Evaluation of environmental footprint from road traffic

Techne Consulting developed a preliminary evaluation of environmental footprints from road traffic in the Living Lab areas of Bologna, Dublin and Hasselt.

In these cities I-CHANGE applied a set of models in an integrated framework to simulate changes in (especially mobility-oriented) lifestyles.

The report uses as input the number of vehicles in the road network obtained as part of traffic simulations conducted in this integrated framework and in particular the results on how the adoption of different traffic policies/scenarios would impact on individuals travel behaviour.

Traffic simulations have been implemented for the peak hours and day and have been scaled to annual mileage with typical factors. The annual mileages are modelled for the following vehicles categories:

  • Passenger Cars (PC);
  • Light Duty Vehicles (LDV);
  • Heavy Duty Vehicles (HDV);
  • Buses;
  • Emissions of pollutants (Nitrogen oxides, Particles with diameter less than 10mm, Sulfur Dioxide, Carbon Monoxide, Non-methane Volatile Organic Compounds, Ammonia and Black Carbon) have been computed.

To compute emissions of air pollutants from annual mileage, specific emission factors for road traffic are elaborated using, as input, the emission factors of the national or regional emission inventory obtained in collaboration with local Living Labs by local Environmental Protection Agencies. National pollutants and greenhouse gases emission inventories are elaborated in the framework of the Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (CLRTAP) and are consistent with the IPCC Guidelines in relation to greenhouse gases.

From air pollutants emissions the following environmental footprint have been computed:

  • Acidification potential (AP): the reference substance is SO2 and specific weight coefficient factors are defined to convert emissions of NOx, SOx and NH3 to SO2;
  • Tropospheric ozone formation potential (TOFP): the indicator includes the emissions of ozone precursors (NMVOC, NOx, CH4, CO) each weighted by a factor prior to aggregation;
  • Aerosol formation potential (AFP): the indicator includes the emissions of primary PM10 and of PM10 gaseous precursors (NOx, SOx and NH3) each weighted by a factor prior to aggregation.

Base cases and the following scenario are then introduced and simulated:

  • Bologna: Scenario 1, Provision of bicycle infrastructure in identified areas and Scenario 2, Introducing Low Emission Zone [LEZ];
  • Dublin: Scenario 1, Provision of bicycle infrastructure in identified areas and Scenario 2, Introducing Low Emission Zone LEZ;
  • Hasselt: Scenario 1, Restricted access to School Streets and Scenario 2, Flexible work hours and Working from home.

The following histograms in Figure 1 show some examples of the effect of measures on environmental footprints.

 

Figure 1: Examples of the effect of measures on environmental footprints in the cities of Bologna, Dublin and Hasselt (own elaboration)

The results obtained in the evaluation of environmental footprints allow to draw the following conclusions:

  • the effects on emissions of pollutants in the traffic scenarios that introduce a LEZ for vehicles up to Euro 4 in Bologna and Dublin can lead to a non-negligible reduction in environmental footprints but are already planned in most cities and are largely insufficient with respect to the challenges that the European Union has launched with the proposal for a new directive on air quality (EC, 2022); the effect on Hasselt of the scenarios is negligible;
  • more generally, all the measures proposed for traffic are not directly oriented towards changing citizens’ individual behaviour, but are more general local traffic planning choices nowadays under testing or already implemented in several European cities. The choice of the policies tested herein was based on the codesign with local stakeholders involved in the three LLs, and are in general aligned with local urban planning strategies.

Evaluation of environmental biometeorological footprint from road traffic

A first evaluation of the environmental biometeorological footprint indexes has been conducted for the Genoa Living Lab using half-hourly data gathered and reported as a frequency distribution of the footprint in classes. The period considered is from August 2022 to May 2023.

The following Figure 2 reports the map of the stations where one year of data was available (Genova Porto Antico (station 1), Serra Riccò Ungaretti (station 2), Casa della Miniera (station 3).

 

Figure 2: Map of the stations where one year of data was available (Genova Porto Antico (station 1), Serra Riccò Ungaretti (station 2), Casa della Miniera (station 3) (own elaboration)

The following histograms (Figure 3) show some examples of environmental biometeorological footprints for Porto Antico location.

 

Figure 3: Examples of environmental biometeorological footprints for Porto Antico location (own elaboration)

The first elaborations and results presented in the plots above show that some behaviours are common to the three stations considered, due to the common regional characteristics.

In particular, growing caution is evident in the summer months in all stations for the parameters linked to the increase in heat. Some differences are evident between the station located in the ancient port of Genoa and the other stations located in the hinterland. Greatest caution in the summer months and some danger is evident for the seaside station (Porto Antico) in particular for Humidex. The effects are less marked in Serra Riccò station (about 200 above sea level) and in particular in Casa della miniera station (about 1100 above sea level).

Conclusion and next steps

The results obtained in the evaluation of environmental footprint allow to draw the following conclusions:

  • Air pollution environmental footprints and environmental biometeorological footprint indicators appropriate to the activities of the LLs in the project have been introduced allowing a synthetic evaluation of effect of the measures on main air quality issues;
  • A robust methodology for evaluating the indicators starting from the data collected in the LLs of the project has been defined.