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1 December 2015

Study shows that use of innovative materials could reduce road emissions

If conventional materials and construction processes were to be replaced by more innovative, environmentally friendly alternatives, the total emissions released in the laying of new roads in the Netherlands could be cut by around a third, a new study suggests. A selection of road types representative of Dutch transport corridors were used to establish a baseline reading, which took into account emissions from construction, maintenance, and lighting.

Innovative materials that could reduce emissions include: treatments that increase the lifespan of binder materials in asphalt; low-temperature asphalt production processes; and road lighting powered by LEDs or renewable energy. Lighting is responsible for around one fifth of road emissions in the Netherlands, meaning there is considerable scope for improvement through the use of innovative lighting. Dutch road infrastructure currently produces 2200 kilotonnes of CO2 equivalents per year, which new materials could reduce to 1600 kilotonnes annually, the study found.

Through Rijkswaterstaat, the Dutch infrastructure body, the Netherlands has introduced a green procurement policy for all road construction projects, which takes into account the life cycle cost of the overall construction. It also encompasses a CO2 emissions certification scheme that calculates the carbon footprint of companies working on the projects. The EU has set a target for the European transport sector to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 60 percent by 2050 compared to the level recorded in 1990.

For more information, download the Science for Environment Policy [PDF].