Promoting Environmental Goals in Freight Transportation through Industry Benchmarking

The freight sector is increasingly recognized as a major source of air pollution. As such, public agencies are rapidly developing policies and programs to reduce related emissions and are challenged to maximize the environmental benefits of public investments. The private sector, including shippers and carriers, is also working to decrease emissions and meet expectations. In addition to complex, resource-intensive freight emissions models and studies currently undertaken by public agencies, many think that other tools are needed. Public agencies and private industry often use performance measurements to guide their resource allocation decisions for operations, asset management, capital investment, planning, and policy development. It has been suggested that more attention should be given to using benchmarking tools to set and achieve environmental performance targets. Setting targets generally entails balancing competing objectives and dealing with political implications. Performance targets would be set on sound and defensible bases and with the concurrence of key decisionmakers and stakeholders. Benchmarking presents an efficient approach to reducing freight emissions and impacts because it can accelerate improvements by eliminating the trial and error process. "Benchmarking is simply the process of measuring the performance of one's company against the best in the same or another industry" (William Stevenson, Productions/Operations Management, 1996). A prerequisite for an efficient benchmark tool in the freight context would require different measures for different modes. For example, in the freight gateway context, the individual modal operator must be able to recognize and feel responsible for the performance on which the enterprise (gateway) is being measured. This is not possible if truck haulage is placed in the same category as rail haulage or ship emissions. Therefore, the benchmarking exercise would have to include modal, intermodal, and supply chain considerations. Research is required to develop guidance for systematically developing emissions benchmarking programs that will serve both public and private objectives by examining the pros and cons of emissions benchmarking and analyzing the potential efficacy of benchmarking as a complement to other emissions reduction strategies. The objective of this research is to develop a handbook to (1) identify and evaluate approaches that can be used by public and private entities to estimate, monitor, and reduce freight emissions and impacts across the supply chain; (2) examine how benchmarking can be used in the freight and logistics industry to promote environmental performance; and (3) create a framework to apply environmental benchmarking for addressing air quality impacts.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 27

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Department of Transportation

    Research and Innovative Technology Administration
    Washington, DC  USA  20590

    National Cooperative Freight Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC    20001
  • Project Managers:

    Rogers, William

  • Performing Organizations:

    ICF Incorporated LLC

    9300 Lee Highway
    Fairfax, VA  USA  22031
  • Principal Investigators:

    O'Rouke, Larry

  • Start Date: 20091216
  • Actual Completion Date: 20110615
  • Source Data: RiP Project 21216

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01462190
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 27
  • Files: TRB, RiP, USDOT
  • Created Date: Jan 3 2013 1:59PM