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new jersey department of environmental protection  


Living with the Future in Mind
Goals and Indicators for New Jersey's Quality of Life
First Annual Update to the Sustainable State Project Report 2000

Indicator 28

Additional  Efficient Transportation and Land Use  Indicators

26 - Road & Bridge Repairs

27 - Vehicle Miles Traveled

29 - Traffic Fatalities

Workplace Transportation Options

Cumulative number of transit-friendly and auto-dependent large office developments built since 1990: Auto-dependent developments increasing faster

  Things to think about 

Isolated office buildings discourage the development of public transport systems because they do not generate enough riders to justify a transit stop.

The construction of large, isolated office buildings contributes to the decline of city centers.

Not only do many of us have to drive to work, but also to the grocery store, to our friends’ homes, to schools, and in some cases to every single place we go.




This indicator rates the largest new office buildings according to the transportation options available to those who will work there. When a major new office development is built, it reshapes the areas surrounding it. New roads, homes, and shopping often follow. If we can come and go only by car, we clog surrounding roads, pollute the air, and waste tens of thousands of hours every year. The location and design of office buildings count perhaps more than any other development decisions we make.


The AAA estimates that it cost the average driver $6,893 in 1998 to own one mid-sized (Taurus-type) car, and even more if you commute more than the average distance of 288 miles per week. Automobile-centered development means we pay extra, too, for pollution, accidents, and construction of new roads. If we wish, we can save by avoiding such development. The side benefits will include improved energy efficiency, lower taxes, more competitive businesses, better air, and more options for getting around.


Pollution and land consumption from sprawling new development is one of the most serious environmental threats we face. The auto travel required to reach scattered suburban office buildings pollutes our air. When you look down on a typical suburban office building from the air, the building is dwarfed by the parking lots surrounding it. The rainwater that runs off these parking lots is called "non-point source" pollution and has at least as large an impact as pollution from sewers and factories (point sources). We have done a good job in New Jersey of cleaning up our point sources, but non-point sources continue to grow as a problem, degrading our waterways.


Isolated, single-use developments do not foster a sense of place or of community. A lack of community, in turn, can exacerbate such problems as high crime rates and lack of political participation. Mixed office, retail, and service developments, on the other hand, help build diverse communities of people who live and work nearby.

Knowledge Gaps

This indicator only measures the state’s largest developments and might not reflect trends in different regions of the state, where smaller office buildings prevail. As such, it does not reflect the automobile dependence of people who work in other sectors of the economy.

Data Source: Rutgers Transportation Policy Institute and NJ Department of Transportation

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Copyright © State of New Jersey, 1996-2006
Department of Environmental Protection
P. O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Modified: April 30, 2007

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