While the recent explosion of interesting and application of Green Streets is well documented, the announcement of a new program to provide sustainability metrics for Greenroads comes at an opportune time when infrastructure seems to be one of the only things getting funded. From the website (which is still under construction): “Greenroads is a sustainability performance metric for roadway design and construction. It is applicable to new and reconstructed/rehabilitated roadways. It awards points for approved sustainable choices/practices and can be used to assess roadway project sustainability.”
I have an increasingly growing stack of sustainable rating systems (beyond LEED) on my desk which seem to fall into three categories: 1) systems coming up with a different methods of measuring or delivering the same things (Earth Advantage, Green Globes), 2) ones that attempt to raise the bar of sustainability to new levels (Living Building Challenge), and 3) attempts to provide metrics for project types that are not addressed or applicable within current systems (Sustainable Sites).
I’ve just thumbed through it a bit, but the Greenroads system seems to incorporate many of these ideas and methods to include in the sustainable conversation the inclusion of roads – one of those ubiquitous elements of our world that seems lost in all of our LEED building and un-green stimulus work. It uses similar methodologies applied to a type of project that seems really difficult to make sustainable in any manner – much less, addressing some of the major issues of traffic impacts on climate change and air quality (or livability perhaps). Much like the Platinum rated McMansion, is the new ‘green’ roadway contributing to sustainability in a meaningful way, or merely some form of greenwashing? A question to be answered – perhaps a green road is less bad. Sustainable, debatable.
It may be oxymoronic, but it just may be the formula to transform the grey – perhaps making it possible to make it green – or better yet, Evergreen.