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Ecommerce and Environmental Justice in Metro Seattle U.S.

Publication: Laboratoire Ville Mobilite Transport (City Transportation Mobility Laboratory), Paris
Publication Date: 2022

The central research question for this project explores the distributional impacts of ecommerce and its implications for equity and justice.

The research aims to investigate how commercial land use affects people and communities. In 2018, U.S. warehouses surpassed office buildings as the primary form of commercial and industrial land use, now accounting for 18 billion square feet of floor space. Warehouses have experienced significant growth in both number and square footage, becoming the predominant land use in the U.S. Warehouse expansion has strategically sprawled from port areas to suburbs in order to get closer to populations and transportation access.

The research findings reveal a correlation between warehouse locations and lower-income communities, resulting in increased exposure to air pollution and triple the traffic associated with ecommerce. Conversely, higher-income populations experience the least exposure, despite making more than half of their purchases online compared to their lower-income counterparts.

Factors such as race and proximity to highways and warehouse locations emerge as stronger predictors of the volume of freight activity through ecommerce than individuals’ income levels or the number of orders placed. Going forward, there is an opportunity for retailers and distributors to take into account the health implications of warehouse placement, and governments can provide best practices to facilitate municipal coordination, particularly where local authorities may be unaware of the impacts.

Authors: Travis Fried

An Evaluation of Logistics Sprawl in Chicago and Phoenix

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Publication: Journal of Transport Geography
Volume: 88
Publication Date: 2018

This paper evaluates whether or not there is a sprawling tendency to the spatial patterns of warehouse establishments in the Chicago and Phoenix metropolitan areas. The trend of warehouses to move away from the urban centers to more suburban and exurban areas is referred to as “Logistics Sprawl”. To measure sprawl, the barycenter of warehousing establishments was compared to the barycenter of all other industry establishments in the region between the years of 1998 and 2013 for Chicago; 1998 and 2015 for Phoenix. This shows that logistics sprawl is a behavior experienced by warehouses in the Chicago area, but not in the Phoenix area. This paper discusses if logistics sprawl is a national trend or a regional behavior by comparing these results to the previous case studies of the Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Seattle metropolitan areas.

Authors: Dr. Anne Goodchild, Melaku Dubie, Kai C. Kuo
Recommended Citation:
Dubie, Melaku, Kai C. Kuo, Gabriela Giron-Valderrama, and Anne Goodchild. (2018) An Evaluation of Logistics Sprawl in Chicago and Phoenix. Journal of Transport Geography, 88, 102298–.

Logistics Sprawl: Differential Warehousing Development Patterns in Los Angeles and Seattle

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Publication: Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board
Volume: 2410
Pages: 105-112
Publication Date: 2014

The warehousing industry experienced a period of rapid growth from 1998 to 2009. This paper compares how the geographic distribution of warehouses changed in both the Los Angeles and Seattle Metropolitan Areas over that time period. These two west coast cities were chosen due to their geographic spread and proximity to major ports as well as their difference in size. The phenomenon of logistics sprawl, or the movement of logistics facilities away from urban centers, which has been demonstrated in past research for the Atlanta and Paris regions, is examined for these two areas. The weighted geometric center of warehousing establishments was calculated for both areas for both years, along with the change in the average distance of warehouses to that center, an indicator of sprawl. We find that between 1998 and 2009, warehousing in Los Angeles sprawled considerably, with the average distance increasing from 25.91 to 31.96 miles, an increase of over 6 miles. However in Seattle, the region remained relatively stable, showing a slight decrease in average distance from the geographic center. Possible explanations for this difference are discussed.

Authors: Dr. Anne Goodchild, Laetitia Dablanc, Scott Ogilvie
Recommended Citation:
Dablanc, Laetitia, Scott Ogilvie, and Anne Goodchild. "Logistics sprawl: differential warehousing development patterns in Los Angeles, California, and Seattle, Washington." Transportation Research Record 2410, no. 1 (2014): 105-112.