Rating the Environmental Impacts of Motor Vehicles: ACEEE’s Green Book® Methodology, 2011 Edition

Research Report T111


Shruti Vaidyanathan and Therese Langer


Consumer education and other market-oriented approaches to improving the environmental performance of automobiles require information that is easy to understand and readily accessible. Such information can influence both buyer decisions and manufacturers’ technology and product planning activities. To provide such information, ACEEE publishes ACEEE’s Green Book® Online, an annual consumer-oriented guide providing environmental rating information for every new model in the U.S. light-duty vehicle market.

The environmental rating methodology for ACEEE’s Green Book® is based on principles of life cycle assessment and environmental economics. The method is designed to be applicable given the limitations of data available by make and model in the U.S. market. The approach combines the impacts of regulated criteria pollutants with those of greenhouse gas emissions, covering the vehicle life cycle, upstream emissions, and manufacturing and disposal impacts. This report covers the data issues, key assumptions, and analysis methods used to develop the vehicle ratings for ACEEE’s Green Book®. It summarizes the application of the methodology to the 2011 model year (MY), highlighting results for major classes and technology types, and identifies research needs for updating and refining the methodology.