Road construction is a more-than-$80 billion annual industry in the United States. Yet nothing comparable to the LEED rating system for buildings, or the Energy Star system for appliances, exists for highways and roads.
University of Washington researchers and global engineering firm CH2M Hill have unveiled Greenroads, a rating system for sustainable road design and construction. Environmental, economic and social impacts are included.
The system outlines minimum requirements to qualify as a green roadway, including a noise mitigation plan, storm-water management plan and waste management plan. It also allows up to 118 points for voluntary actions such as minimizing light pollution, using recycled materials, incorporating quiet pavement and accommodating non-motorized transportation.
The first complete version of Greenroads is available at http://www.greenroads.us/.
In addition to “green” roads, sufficient, easily accessible parking can also reduce pollution and greenhouse gases and contribute to a more green environment. The Department of Transportation reported that “… recent research shows, that over 50% of the traffic in typical downtowns is simply on the road, cruising around the block searching for vacant convenient parking spaces.” Architects and developers in urban areas can supply the parking needed in half the space by using an automated parking system. The space created can then be used for more green space and common areas for the community.