MEP: Mobility Energy Productivity Tool

NREL's Mobility Energy Productivity tool, or MEP, quantifies the ability of an area's transportation system to connect individuals to goods, services, employment opportunities, and other activities while accounting for time, cost, and energy.

In other words, the tool measures how efficiently connected a place is.

MEP logo

Focus on People

The Mobility Energy Productivity tool offers an innovative approach to characterize, measure, and inform the movement of people within a given location or region. The ability to quantify mobility using MEP has the potential to create more livable communities that offer transportation choices that are affordable and accessible, create economic opportunities, and lead to a higher quality of life for citizens.

Graphic showing three interconnected areas. On the left, text reads “Mobility Energy Productivity (MEP) Tool, Transportation Options – More modes of transport within a location means higher MEP.” To the right, text reads “Making Efficient Travel Choices – MEP and Airport MEP use time, cost, and energy to measure the efficiency of travel options for people accessing opportunities.” Text reading “Decision Factors – Faster, cheaper, more energy efficient travel options will lead to a higher MEP” also links to the MEP map on the left as well as an Airport MEP map on the right. On the right, text reads “Airport MEP, Transportation Option – Airport MEP comprises travel options such as drop off, ride hailing, parking, and transit.”

Building on accessibility theory, the basis of MEP is the proximity and convenience of access to a variety of goods, services, employment opportunities, and other activities reachable by various forms of mobility. Therefore, a location with access to many opportunities via a variety of travel modes, within a short amount of time, and with low energy and the least cost will have a high numeric MEP score.

MEP can be used to track changes in mobility within a single city or given location over time. It can measure current levels of mobility at a specific location and then determine how various technological advancements, services (e.g., ride hailing, micromobility, electric vehicles, automated vehicles), and infrastructure investments (e.g., bike lanes, mixed-used development) may impact the mobility potential of that location over time.

When applied to major attractors such as airports (then dubbed the Airport MEP), it measures the ease of accessing an airport from anywhere in a city.

For more information about MEP, refer to the feature article A New Way To Measure Mobility Potential of Cities.

Focus on Freight

The Freight MEP quantifies the ease of shipping goods between cities or states via various modes. It can be used to quantify the productivity of current and future freight systems from the shipper’s perspective. It provides a mathematical framework for quantifying freight productivity—connecting freight demand to freight supply while accounting for inputs such as cost, energy, distance, time, logistics, and ease of shipping goods via various modes.

Graphic showing three interconnected areas. On the left, text reads "Freight MEP – Evaluating the efficiency of shipping goods around the county is a new take on MEP.” Below this text is a graphic showing boxes on a carrier next to graphic showing money, energy, and distance with pointers to a U.S. map. Text below reads “Shipping Goods Effectively – Freight MEP uses cost, energy, and distance, paired with ease of shipment, to measure the efficiency of freight travel between cities and states.” Above the U.S. map, which includes a pointer and freight-related icons, text reads “Transportation Options – Freight is commonly transported by truck, train, plane, or ship.” Icons representing these travel modes appear above the map, and icons representing money, energy, and distance/location appear below the map, along with text that reads “Decision Factors – For freight, MEP considers cost, energy, and distance.” To the right, text reads “Ease of Shipment – This new Freight MEP-specific factor is based on the number of facilities per mode of transportation in a given location."

For more information about Freight MEP, refer to the news article New Tool Quantifies Productivity of Freight Mobility Systems.

Publications

The following documents provide detailed information about the Mobility Energy Productivity tool. For NREL’s full collection of MEP-related documents, visit the Publications Database.

A Comprehensive Approach to Measure the Mobility Energy Productivity of Freight Transport: Preprint, Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting (2020)

Comprehensive Approach To Measure the Mobility Energy Productivity of Freight Transport, Transportation Research Record: The Journal of the Transportation Research Board (2020)

A Novel and Practical Method To Quantify the Quality of Mobility: The Mobility Energy Productivity Metric: Preprint, Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting (2019)

Novel and Practical Method To Quantify the Quality of Mobility: Mobility Energy Productivity Metric, Transportation Research Record: The Journal of the Transportation Research Board (2019)

Measuring Mobility Potential: New Metric Quantifies Mobility Energy Productivity, NREL Fact Sheet (2019)

Contact

Contact us to discuss your partnership interests or to learn about our custom analyses.

Venu Garikapati

Transportation Data Analytics Researcher and MEP Project Leader

Venu.Garikapati@nrel.gov
303-275-4784