Getting Tons of CO2 Off the Highway: Building Greener Roads (and getting past the roadblocks they face)

Removing the road block to building greener roadsWe’d get nowhere without roads – literally and figuratively. “Paving the way” to a sustainable future requires better roads and a roadmap to get there. Okay enough with the metaphors, here are some hard facts:

  • The US spends 7 percent of its GDP on transportation infrastructure (in 2010 that equalled nearly a cool trillion dollars). A key component of that cost is asphalt for building roads.
  • One mile of a typical two-mile stretch of highway requires 25,000 tons of crushed stone, making it the most mined materials in the world.
  • Constructing a single-lane mile of road emits 1,200 tons of CO2 every year. The US conservatively emits 38,760,000 annually just to build and maintain our roads.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are ways to reduce costs and lighten the environmental footprint of road construction – a win, win, win situation: lower costs, have more high quality roads for people to get somewhere (literally and figuratively), with less damage to the environment.

It’s the kink of thing everyone should be able to get behind, so why is there a roadblock to the green road movement?

Colleague Derek Singleton, a writer and business analyst for Software Advice, gives an excellent explanation of the growing green road construction movement and how contractor cost-plus pricing is a major roadblock toward building greener roads.





Thomas Schueneman
Thomas Schueneman
Tom is the founder and managing editor of and the PlanetWatch Group. His work appears in Triple Pundit, Slate, Cleantechnia, Planetsave, Earth911, and several other sustainability-focused publications. Tom is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists.

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