NREL Open-Access Study

Thank you for participating in the NREL Open-Access Study.

Purpose of Study

Transportation is the largest contributor to U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. As the nation's premier facility for energy-efficient transportation R&D solutions, NREL takes a whole-system, human-centric approach to solve complex energy challenges and slash greenhouse gas emissions. As part of this approach, we are collecting long-term travel behavior data that tell us how, where, and why people travel.

Data Collection

Used for data collection and analysis, NREL OpenPATH is an open-source platform that collects a complete snapshot of your travel and uses it to estimate your individual transportation carbon footprint, with comparisons to U.S. 2030 and 2050 carbon-reduction goals. It also generates aggregate metrics, updated daily, on mode share and distance traveled.

NREL uses this information to understand how travel patterns respond to federal, state, and local interventions such as programs, incentives, and infrastructure changes. Since the data will be collected for a long time, changes can be directly observed, instead of inferred from other data sources. The data can also serve as a control of unmodified travel behavior for programs that target a small sample of the population.

Install the NREL OpenPATH App on Your Phone

  1. Download the NREL OpenPATH app from the Apple Store or the Google Play Store.
  2. Scan the QR code or visit the link below to join this program.
  3. Remember to give all the requested permissions, including ("always") background location access. If you have a Samsung or Huawei phone, turn off background restrictions.
  4. Track your trips, label them when prompted, and check out your carbon footprint.

For additional information, see the participant guidelines.

Join the Study

After you have installed the NREL OpenPATH app on your phone, join the study by scanning the QR code or visiting the link below using your phone.

QR code


You will log in using an autogenerated token. Save your token in case you lose or change phones. If you lose your token, NREL cannot retrieve it for you since we do not have the ability to match a token to an individual user.

Data Privacy and Security

The system will not collect any of the traditional personally identifiable information (i.e., no name, email, or phone number).

The collected data will be stored in a FEDRAMP-certified medium cluster at NREL and encrypted both in transit and at rest. Data from this study will be stored separately from other study data using the NREL-hosted version of the OpenPATH platform.

The raw data from this study will only be made available to:

  • Program administrators from NREL's Center for Integrated Mobility Sciences to monitor the study and potentially send recommendations for alternate travel modes
  • NREL OpenPATH developers for debugging.

On completion of the study, the data will be archived in NREL's Transportation Secure Data Center to support travel behavior research.

Examples of research that might use the data include:

  • Comparing the open-access group (no intervention) and programs that provide interventions
  • General monitoring of mobility trends for travel behavior, including shifts to travel behavior and the introduction of new mobility modes.


K. Shankari

Postdoctoral Researcher, Director's Fellow