Location Efficiency News

Quality of Life, (e)Quality of Place: Growing Local Economies through Equitable Transit-Oriented Development

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

Rail transit anchors downtowns and neighborhoods in communities throughout Chicago’s northern suburbs and across the region, but many of these communities are falling behind in creating mixed-income transit-oriented development. This guidebook offers case studies, policy recommendations, and public participation tools to help suburbs build affordable, accessible housing around transit.

Cleveland’s Climate Future

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

Vacant. Abandoned. Blighted. Words that have pervaded the American vernacular as cities strive not to be defined by them. In the twentieth century, when steam and labor gave way to thought and machines, neighborhoods at the heart of industry slid into decline. Their stresses worsened after the financial crash of 2008, as homes were left barren by foreclosure. In the hardest-hit neighborhoods, solutions to the rise in unused space and the drop in safety that often went with it seemed few and far between.

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Cleveland skyline (Photo by digipixguy/Flickr Creative Commons License)

Like many historic American cities, Cleveland faces the challenge of sparking renewal in the shadow of its booming industrial past. The city’s Kinsman neighborhood, once dense with homes for industrial workers, has been vacated to the point of feeling almost rural. That degree of empty space within city limits is usually seen as a liability, but residents and environmental advocates have begun using the open land as a blank canvas for agricultural innovation. Lots that once housed homes have been plowed, planted, and transformed into orchards and farmland.

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CNT Lends Expertise to HUD + USDOT to Help Design New Online Measures of Location Affordability

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

HUD and USDOT Launch Location Affordability Portal

CNT contributed our expertise in location efficiency and household transportation modeling to help create the Location Affordability Portal and related tools.

CNT contributed our expertise in location efficiency and household transportation modeling to help create the Location Affordability Portal and related tools.

On November 12, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced the launch of the Location Affordability Portal (LAP), a web-based tool that estimates the cost of housing and transportation based on location. CNT contributed our expertise in location efficiency and household transportation modeling to help create the LAP and related tools: the Location Affordability Index and My Transportation Cost Calculator.

CNT worked closely with and took direction from HUD and other project partners to deliver a product that meets specific goals. Chief among these goals is advancing Americans’ awareness of the impact of the combined costs of housing and transportation on an individual’s or family’s monthly budget.

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People, Places + Progress: Celebrating 35 Years of Community Innovation

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

In honor of our 35th anniversary, CNT staff compiled stories about our 35 most game-changing innovations. People, Places + Progress chronicles CNT’s growth in capacity, reputation, and impact. From the construction of solar greenhouses to grow vegetables in what we now call “food deserts” to the development of revolutionary energy efficiency programs. From the Location Efficient Mortgage® to the Surface Transportation Policy Project. From driving the concept and business of car sharing to shattering the traditional view of housing affordability (hint: it’s the transportation costs!). From the Green Line to green dry cleaning to the Green TIME Zone, CNT has reimagined how our cities can become more sustainable and prosperous for everyone.

Celebrating 35 Years: Abogo

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

35 Facts for CNT’s 35 Years: Each week we’ll expand on one fun fact. Enjoy!

#24 Abogo

abogo-header-webIf you’re a regional planner, municipal policy developer, affordable housing advocate, or transportation planner, chances are you’ve taken advantage of our Housing and Transportation (H+T®) Affordability Index. Since CNT began releasing H+T Index data for public use in 2008, a diverse group of communities and organizations have used it for a wide variety of planning and policy applications. Users range from Boston to Boise, federal agencies to private planning firms, and housing counselors to streetcar advocates.

But what about individuals who want to understand the true costs of housing and transportation in a particular location? The H+T Index is a powerful tool capable of producing fascinating results, but as CNT staffer Adam Mays once said, “H+T is like a particle accelerator. We need a microwave oven: something fast, easy to operate, and practical.”

So, as is so often the case, the person with the idea gets tapped to make it happen. CNT asked Adam to help build a better mousetrap microwave H+T for individuals. This was the beginning of Abogo.

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Including Cities in President Obama’s Climate Action Plan

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

A statement from Scott Bernstein, President of the Center for Neighborhood Technology


President Obama presented his Climate Action Plan yesterday, asking Americans to take seriously the threat of climate change and adopt behaviors and policies that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. CNT applauds the president’s leadership.

As the president knows, having served on our Board of Directors, CNT has helped cities and their residents make these kinds of sustainable choices for 35 years. We’ve also challenged and overturned the conventional wisdom that cities are the biggest carbon emission culprits. CNT’s research actually shows that cities can be the most efficient places to live, with their lower per capita greenhouse gas emissions due to efficient land use and transportation alternatives. For many reasons, cities offer the greatest opportunities to help solve the climate crisis.

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Celebrating 35 Years: Location Efficient Mortgages (LEMs)

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

35 Facts for CNT’s 35 Years: Each week we’ll expand on one fun fact. Enjoy!

#15 Location Efficient Mortgages (LEMs)

Location efficiency. This term, coined by CNT’s president, Scott Bernstein, is at the core of our work to build more sustainable communities. Run a web search for the term and you’ll find CNT’s fingerprints on nearly every result. You’ll certainly find a generally accepted definition of location efficiency, which can be boiled down to this:

“Compact neighborhoods with an interconnected street network, access to transit, mixed land uses, and concentration of retail and services are highly efficient communities. When brought together, these elements enable an efficiency of scale.”

The concept of location efficiency drives our thinking around the Housing and Transportation (H+T®) Affordability Index, our innovative and widely adopted tool to measure the true affordability of housing based on its location.

lem-bwIt also inspired the development of the Location Efficient Mortgage® (LEM), a revolutionary financing tool that recognized and accounted for the savings available to people who live in location-efficient communities.

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Evidence that Housing Near Transit is a Good Investment

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

Residential real estate sales prices for properties located near transit are healthier and more resilient than in the broader metropolitan region. That’s the conclusion of The New Real Estate Mantra: Location Near Public Transportation, written by CNT and commissioned by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). Although residential real estate prices dropped during the recession in the five regions studied (2006 to 2011 in Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Phoenix, and San Francisco), average sales prices for residential properties within walking distance of a heavy rail, light rail, commuter rail, and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) station outperformed the region by an average of 42 percent.

In Boston, transit-served areas (transit sheds) outperformed the region by a staggering 129 percent. In Chicago, home values in transit served areas performed 30 percent better than the region; in San Francisco, 37 percent; Minneapolis-St Paul, 48 percent; and in Phoenix 37 percent.

APTA Cities Read more »

Why We Need to Invest in Public Transit

Monday, February 11th, 2013

If there was ever a reason for more transit it is embodied in the recently published report from the Texas A&M Transportation Institution (TTI). Its 2012 Urban Mobility Report details the enormous costs associated with the ever increasing traffic congestion blighting America’s major metro areas. It calculates, for example, that in 2011 commuters spent 5.5 billion hours sitting in traffic (equivalent to the total amount of time that businesses and individuals spend filing their annual tax returns), wasted 2.9 billion gallons of fuel and pumped out 56 billion extra pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

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Photo Credit: Steven Vance/Flickr Creative Commons License

The Chicagoland area ranks 7th overall when it comes to hours wasted due to traffic congestion, 8th in terms of wasted fuel and 5th in terms of total dollar cost. The average Chicago commuter spends 51 hours a year in traffic, consuming 24 extra gallons of fuel. Traffic congestion cost each Chicagoan commuter an average of $1,153 in 2011. This is not efficient use of resources. Chicagoland commuters are also contributing to global warming by pumping out more than 2.3 billion pounds of carbon dioxide while sitting in traffic.

I agree with some of the potential solutions cited in the report. The authors point out that in the absence of public transit services in the 498 major metro areas studied, the situation would have been a lot worse. Commuters would have suffered through an additional 865 million hours of wasted time and consumed 450 million extra gallons of fuel. This wasted time and fuel would have cost, according to the report, an additional $20.8 billion, a 15% increase over current congestion costs.

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Photo Credit: Zesmerelda/Flickr Creative Commons License

While the report mentions increased highway capacity and more efficient use of highway infrastructure as part of a potential remedy, it emphasizes the importance of greater investment in expanding and improving public transit services in cities and their surrounding areas. Transit services don’t just take cars off the road improving traffic flow. They offer a safe, affordable and environmentally friendly alternative. The huge costs, financial and environmental, caused by traffic congestion highlighted in this report lend even more weight to the argument for greater commitment to transit infrastructure laid out in CMAP’s GOTO 2040.

Read the full report here.>>

New Report on TOD Typology Strategy for Allegheny County

Friday, February 8th, 2013

SetWidth220-201302pittsburgh-squareThe Center for Transit-Oriented Development (CTOD) today released results of a year-long study into the potential for transit-oriented development to unlock economic, environmental and fiscal benefits for Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. The report, “Transit-Oriented Development Typology Strategy for Allegheny County,” was commissioned by the  Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group under the auspices of its GoBurgh initiative and funded by the Heinz Endowments. Read more »