Sustainable Roads

Next Generation Transportation
Sustainability is a far-reaching topic within the construction industry covering the use of natural resources, the environmental impact of our construction sites and improvements to the built environment as well as quality of life for the occupants.

As contractors we play a significant role in reducing the environmental impact of a facility through the review of designs, proposed specific materials and equipment, staging and phasing during the planning of a project. During construction, contractors are responsible for the storm water run-off, land disturbance, recycling, air quality programs and more.

As a steward of our environment, AZAGC supports initiatives that will enhance our quality of life for generations to come without burdening them with unusable or overly cumbersome regulations that will increase the cost of construction to the point where improvements to our environment are too costly to make.

In today's world, the conventional road building approach is insufficient for some high profile environmentally sensitive projects. Contractors will need to think beyond pavement and develop elements that will integrate the road into the context of the area.

One such approach gaining popularity is the Greenroads. Greenroads is a sustainability rating system for roadways. The program was developed by the University of Washington along with CH2M Hill. The rating system is designed to quantify sustainable practices associated with the design and construction of roads. It is applicable to all types of roadways (urban highways, arterials, rural roads and residential streets). The system awards credits for approvable sustainable choices and practices and can be used to certify projects based on a total point value and can be implemented in a number of ways ranging from voluntary use by agencies and private enterprise to mandated goals and specifications.

The ultimate benefit of Greenroads is more sustainable roadways. This means less impact on the environment, lower life-cycle costs, and more positive societal outcomes. Owners want to be viewed as eco-friendly. In the last two years owners around Arizona are beginning to incorporate programs like Greenroads into their transportation planning.

Recently the City of Peoria consulted with AZAGC on the use of a sustainable rating system for an upcoming project they are designing. The City is creating a template for what an environmentally and socially responsible construction project should look like. The chapter welcomes the opportunity to work on these efforts. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has invested in the Greenroads program believing this is a new era for highway building.

Transportation and its infrastructure have huge economic, social and environmental impacts. By designing and constructing more sustainable roads, the industry can better meet the needs of future generations, while protecting the natural systems of the planet. Ratings systems such as Greenroads provide a holistic way of considering roadway sustainability, a defined and quantitative means to assess roadway sustainability and a tool for decision makers, agencies, consultants and contractors to make informed decisions on sustainable design and construction.

Download the Policy Paper [CLICK HERE]