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Life Cycle Engineering approach to develop a novel EU-harmonized sustainability certification system for cost-effective, safer and greener road infrastructures

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Road certification and sustainability for greener transport infrastructure

A new certification scheme for road projects in Europe will help the transport sector become more sustainable, with positive impacts on the environment and society.

Transport and Mobility
Climate Change and Environment

The EU enjoys many noteworthy certification schemes for products and services from organic farming to industrial processes, but there is no such scheme for road products and infrastructures. The EU-funded LCE4ROADS (Life cycle engineering approach to develop a novel EU-harmonized sustainability certification system for cost-effective, safer and greener road infrastructures) project rose to the challenge. It envisioned a life-cycle engineering (LCE) scheme for road infrastructure based on environmental, economic, social and technical considerations to assess infrastructures and related materials. To achieve its aims, the project team devised a new approach and related software tool to evaluate sustainability performance of road projects. It outlined guidelines and recommendations for building greener, safer and cost-effective road-related products, including training material for certification and a certification system. The software tool assesses a road project according to key performance indicators and calculates the impact of the materials and activities involved in all phases of a road’s life cycle. It relies on a comprehensive database of materials, machinery, transport vehicles, construction processes, energy sources, legal considerations, maintenance approaches and disposal stages. In order to promote sustainability of roads and facilitate its future deployment, the LCE4ROADS consortium (in collaboration with the European Committee for Standardization (CEN), European national road authorities, sectorial association, transport laboratories and private companies) organised different CEN workshops resulting in the publication of the CEN document CWA 17089:2016 ‘Indicators for the sustainability assessment of roads’. LCE4ROADS partners discussed exploitation of the results and further research avenues have been mapped. In parallel, the project has conducted twinning activities with stakeholders in the United States to benefit from knowledge exchange and further global standardisation. The outcomes of the project are slated to help evaluate impacts of new road projects on the environment and society, optimising resource use as well. They will undoubtedly help promote sustainable development in transport and encourage the use of eco-friendly technologies, materials and solutions in the sector. Greener, safer and more cost-effective engineering solutions are expected to emerge from this endeavour, ultimately leading to a better, greener transport sector.

Keywords

Road certification, sustainability, LCE4ROADS, life cycle engineering, road infrastructure

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