Changing the timing and frequency of deliveries could have significant environmental and economic benefits


Expert Pitch

José Holguín-Veras, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, is a leading expert on energy-efficient logistics. His previous research has shown that implementing behavior changes can reduce transportation and delivery costs, as well as emissions. A key example is the Off-Hour Delivery program designed by Holguín-Veras and his team, which was implemented in New York City. Data his team collected and analyzed in New York City showed a significant benefit to commuters, businesses, and the environment when deliveries were made and accepted between the hours of 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. 

With the support of a $2 million grant by the U.S. Department of Energy in 2017 he and his team will soon start collecting baseline data from trucks making deliveries in, around, and between Albany and New York City. What they find will help inform possible public and private policy changes. The team is also interested in examining transport in congested areas as well as long-distance travel, including the use of barges and ships.

“The goal is to use a public and private collaborative approach to induce increases in the performance of supply chains—in essence trying to make delivery faster, more efficient, and result in a smaller amount of negative externalities like pollution and congestion,” said Holguín-Veras, who is also the director of the Volvo Research and Educational Foundations (VREF) Center of Excellence for Sustainable Urban Freight Systems.

“Because of the gravity of climate change, we need to use collaborative approaches involving the public and private sectors and researchers to find solutions not only to benefit the environment, but also to increase economic productivity,” he said.

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