With over four million miles of roads cris-crossing the nation, and as much as 32,000 miles of new roads being added annually, it would be wonderful if we could make these roads a little greener. Just as the building industry has undergone its own evolution in the last few decades, making buildings greener, more energy-efficient and eco-friendly overall, Greenroads is a rating system dedicated to certifying roads that are built “greener,” similar to LEED certification for buildings. But just what is a greener road?
According to Greenroads.org, roads can be made more eco-friendly by utilizing existing knowledge, smarter design and available technology. Greenroads-certified roadways will take into account the local environment into account, reduce stormwater runoff and other pollutants by improving systems, design roadways for multi-modal transportation (to include bikes and other small vehicles) as well as incorporate the Electric Vehicle infrastructure. A certified road system would also discourage idling, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
A green road system should also take into account social responsibility and safety. Greenroads will find a way to make roads more accessible for public transit, as well as friendly for pedestrians and bikes and integrated into the community. Further, existing roadways are 100 percent recyclable. so using recycled material in new construction and when fixing existing roads contributes to their Greenroad-worthiness.
Deron Lovaas, the state and urban policy director for the NRDC’s Urban Solutions Program, said, “As with USGBC, Greenroads certification will be iterated by the board and staff over time, getting better and better thanks to input from an increasing number of technical experts and fans. Recently the city of Austin joined Greenroads, and I look forward to helping scale it up further.”
The Greenroads manual is available for free for anyone who wishes to use it. The manual was created by the University of Washington Civil and Environmental Engineering program and is available for free because Greenroads believes that transparency is a key aspect of creating change within an evolving industry.