BY PETER CAULFIELD - A pilot project that uses a LEED-like sustainability rating system for roadways, called Greenroads, has been completed on the South Fraser Perimeter Road (SFPR) in Metro Vancouver.
The project was finished at the end of 2013 and was submitted to the Greenroads Foundation in Redmond, Wash. by the Fraser Transportation Group Constructors.
It received Bronze accreditation.
“We undertook the project because we wanted to see how good our roadbuilding standards were compared to the Greenroads standards,” said Murray MacKinnon, VP of sustainability for Ledcor Industries Inc., which is part of the joint venture that built the road.
The SFPR project stretches from the Trans-Canada Highway at 176th Street in Surrey to Deltaport on the old Highway 17.
At 40 kilometres in length, the SFPR is Greenroads’ largest and longest pilot project to date.
The SFPR was Ledcor’s second Greenroads venture.
Five years ago, it acted as contractor for a B.C. Ministry of Transportation redevelopment of the Trans-Canada Highway in the Kicking Horse Pass that the government wanted built to Greenroads standards.
The foundation currently has several projects at various stages in Canada: Three in Ontario and one in Alberta.
The Greenroads Rating System awards points for sustainable design and construction practices.
It is applicable to all types and sizes of roadbuilding projects, including new, rehabilitation, reconstruction, preservation and bridges.
The Greenroads concept was developed and initially published as an academic thesis at the University of Washington by Martina S<0x00f6>derlund in late 2007.
The basis of her thesis was “If green buildings, why not green roads?”
The Greenroads rating system is a collection of sustainable roadway design and construction best practices.
Each practice is assigned a point value according to its impact on roadway sustainability.
There are 11 project requirements that must be satisfied for a roadway to be considered a Greenroad.
These activities carry no point value and are required for all projects pursuing official recognition for a Greenroads rating.
There are also voluntary credits that a project can earn.
The credits can be added up for a final score that can be used for sustainability tracking, internal information or publicity.
The more points, the higher the certification level.
Currently, there are four certification levels: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Evergreen.
In addition to Canada and the U.S., there are Greenroads projects in New Zealand, South Africa, Taiwan, Italy and the United Arab Emirates.
In the past four years, Greenroads rating system has been tested on more than 120 projects.
“Greenroads has been catching on relatively quickly because it emulates LEED, which has been very successful in another industry sector,” said MacKinnon.
“In addition, it has the benefit of third-party verifiability, which gives it credibility”
He said there are opportunities for Greenroads certification for both large and small projects.
“Larger projects can take advantage of more accreditation categories to get more credits and they also have more specialists to do the documentation that’s required,” he said.
But, smaller projects have more opportunity for community involvement and they tend to be more open to innovation solutions on a smaller scale.
“It’s easier for a city engineer in a small city to take a chance on a new way of doing things on a small project because the risk is relatively small,” he said.
MacKinnon said he expects that Greenroads will increase in popularity.
“Many of our major clients are tracking their supply chains for sustainability and environmental friendliness, and Greenroads will be in more demand in the future,” he said.
“Greenroads now is like the way LEED was when it started 20 years ago.”
Greenroads executive director Jeralee Anderson said her 10-year vision for the foundation is to have at least one project in every state and every English-speaking country.
“However, given the recent collaborations we’ve had with Asian groups, including Taiwan and Indonesia, and given that our nearly 500-page manual has been translated into Mandarin twice, perhaps I might be re-framing that vision in the next two years, depending on how those relationships progress,” she said.
Anderson said she wants Greenroads to become the LinkedIn of the transportation industry.
“I am really proud to see a balance of non-profits, private consultants, construction groups and public agencies,” she said.
“As far as the key to getting all these lofty goals to stick together, we’re spending a good amount of time developing online, classroom and blended learning opportunities. That is our main focus area for this year and next.”