Now, a new study shows that carbon emissions coming from Dutch road networks can be lessened by almost a third if the government uses more green innovations in materials and processes.
The study’s researchers reviewed the potential benefits from using 10 road construction and maintenance innovations, and evaluated them with materials used and processes applied in using conventional systems.
By 2050, the European Union transport sector needs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 60 percent compared with 1990 levels. To make sure they will achieve their emission goals, various European Union countries have established specific national-level targets.
Innovations Aid Policy
Compared with its neighbors in the region, the Netherlands have set up a green procedure system to review road construction projects. The system involves reviewing a project’s lifecycle assessment and a carbon dioxide emissions certification scheme that will measure the carbon footprints of companies. However, the system has not taken into account the advantages of using innovative materials and processes since the data needed are not included in the country’s information databases.
This is where the study comes in: the researchers aimed to show the effect of green innovations in the country’s road infrastructure projects, primarily to aid policy decisions. Since the road designs in the country considerably vary, the researchers based the analysis on representative road types.
The researchers looked at the potential carbon emission reductions using 10 innovative processes and materials compared to the current Dutch road designs. These included reviewing the methods for producing and constructing brick roads as well as asphalt roads, and lighting.
The innovations assessed in the study included: the use of recycled materials, treatments that lengthen the lifespan of binder materials used in asphalt; approaches that remove energy-intensive brick production; low-temperature processes for producing asphalt; and road lighting using renewable energy or LEDs.
Overall, the study showed that using green innovations and materials in road construction and design could reduce road infrastructure-related carbon emissions by as much as 30 percent. This would result in a reduction of about 660 kilotons every year.
At present, the total greenhouse gas emissions coming from Dutch road infrastructure are around the equivalent of 2,200 kilotons of carbon dioxide per year.
Author Ben Coates, writing on The Independent, said per capita carbon emissions in The Netherlands are regarded among the highest in the region.
According to The Guardian, a court in The Hague compelled the Dutch government in in June to reduce its emissions within five years by at least 25 percent. The paper described the ruling as a landmark decision, since it was the first climate liability case filed under human rights and tort law.
But to be fair to The Netherlands, there have been some green strides recently. The world’s first solar road is in the country, according to Katie Valentine of ThinkProgress.Org. A Netherlands-based construction company is also studying the feasibility of using recycled plastic as pavement, she adds.