Measuring Mobility Potential: A Novel Metric to Quantify Mobility Energy Productivity (MEP) of Transportation Systems

Research output: NRELPresentation


For nearly a century, the automobile has been the primary mode of personal transportation in American life. This remains true today as millions of people rely heavily on cars to connect suburbs with cities or to travel long distances - often out of routine or convenience. However, advances in technology are fueling an era of transportation transformation, with the potential to transform a system that has remained virtually unchanged for decades. The challenges of interconnecting our cities and creating a cross-continental transportation system for military purposes spawned the interstate highway system, generating the age of the automobile. In this century, congestion and mobility challenges of rising urban populations are spawning ever-evolving mobility and communications technologies to connect people to goods, services, and employment within a metropolitan and national context - all of which define a high quality of life. Aspiring smart cities are wrestling with questions such as: How does mobility impact a person's quality of life? Would people make different travel choices if they were presented with better information about their mobility options? Would businesses make different location decisions if they could assess the quality of mobility in that area? The ability to quantify the quality of mobility at a given location is the first step toward answering these questions. In response, an interdisciplinary team at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has developed the Mobility-Energy Productivity (MEP) metric. The MEP metric provides an avenue to not only measure the quality of mobility at a specific location in its current configuration, but also to test how various technological advances (e.g., connected and automated vehicles, plug-in electric vehicles, shared mobility) and infrastructure investments (e.g., building an additional highway lane, constructing a new shopping mall, implementing a transit-oriented development) impact the mobility of that location over time.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages28
StatePublished - 2020

Publication series

NamePresented at the Transportation Research Board (TRB) 99th Annual Meeting, 12-16 January 2020, Washington, D.C.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-5400-75803


  • accessibility
  • energy
  • isochrones
  • mobility
  • productivity
  • transportation systems


Dive into the research topics of 'Measuring Mobility Potential: A Novel Metric to Quantify Mobility Energy Productivity (MEP) of Transportation Systems'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this