Why Building Green Roads are important?

A green highway is a term used to describe a roadway that incorporates features that promote sustainable development and environmental protection. These features can include things like:

  • Use of native plant species for landscaping and erosion control
  • Implementation of stormwater management systems to reduce runoff and improve water quality
  • Incorporation of bike lanes and pedestrian walkways to encourage alternative forms of transportation
  • Use of energy-efficient lighting and other technologies to reduce energy consumption
  • Construction of wildlife crossings to reduce animal-vehicle collisions and improve habitat connectivity

Green highways can also incorporate other sustainable design elements such as pervious pavement, rain gardens, and green roofs to reduce environmental impact.

To develop a green highway, a project can follow the guidelines provided below by GHP:

· Provide a net increase in environmental functions and values of a watershed.

· Go beyond minimum standards set by environmental laws and regulations.

· Identify and protect historic and cultural landmarks.

· Map all resources in the area to avoid, identify, and protect critical resource areas.

· Use innovative, natural methods to reduce imperviousness, and cleanse all runoff within the project area.

· Maximize use of existing transportation infrastructure, providing multi-modal transportation opportunities and promoting ride-sharing/public transportation.

· Use recycled materials to eliminate waste and reduce the energy required to build the highway.

· Link regional transportation plans with local land-use partnerships.

· control populations of invasive species, and promote the growth of native species.

· Incorporate post-project monitoring to ensure environmental results.

· Protect the hydrology of wetlands and stream channels through the restoration of natural drainage paths.

· Result in a suite of targeted environmental outcomes based upon local environmental needs.

· Reduce disruptions to ecological processes by promoting wildlife corridors and passages in areas identified through wildlife conservation plans.

· Encourage smart growth by integrating and guiding future growth and capacity building with ecological constraints.

Other parameters associated with green highways and green roads include:

· Trees saplings planted near the roads include varied species and may follow methods of polyculture. Saplings are selected considering various reasons such as conservation need, aesthetics, maintenance costs, spiritual and religious association, mythological reasons, heritage value, medicinal value, tolerance capacity, nativity to the region, association with other species, canopy spread, safety to the drivers, benefit to the community, benefit to the natural environment, etc.

· Creating micro-forests and urban forests near the highways and roads.

· Preference for planting tree saplings in multiple rows or lines, towards developing tree zones or tree groves near the roads.

· Creation, maintenance, and protection of water bodies near the roads (ponds, streams, rivers, wells, etc.).

· Passenger waiting areas are environmentally friendly (made from biodegradable, recycled, recyclable, renewable resources).


Green highway construction can incorporate several technical elements including, but not limited to:

· Bioretention Swales

· Porous Pavements

· Environmentally Friendly Concrete

· Forest Buffer

· Restored and Stormwater Wetlands

· Stream Restoration

· Wildlife crossing

· Soil amendments

· Stormwater Management with Pervious Concrete Pavement


U.S. Highway 301 Waldorf Transportation Improvements project is working towards becoming the nation’s first truly green highway by incorporating the principles of the Green Highways Partnership and green infrastructure in its earliest planning stages. The project encompasses an area from MD 5 and US 301 interchange in Prince George’s County to the US 301 intersection with Washington Avenue and Turkey Hill Road in Charles County. It aims to improve the local traffic operation along US 301 while promoting and securing environmental stewardship.

Anacostia Watershed Protection: This pilot competition is designed to support the protection and restoration of urban water resources through a holistic watershed approach to water quality management. Funding will be directed to environmentally sound, watershed projects that stress a wide range of water quality improvement strategies and targets.

Green roads rating systems

Together with funding research, and getting citizens to donate time and money to sustainable projects, these organizations have formulated road rating systems.

Highways and byways are rated according to various criteria and, based on the total score, the construction companies are given high fives or brickbats.

These independent ratings are designed to challenge project teams to consider using alternative materials, technologies, and systems, throughout the life cycle, to produce planet- and people-friendly transportation infrastructure.

Due to South Africa’s history and high unemployment rate, the GRCSA is keenly focused on the socio-economic impact of building sustainable roads. Using only locally sourced materials, and providing jobs for community members are key to a good or bad score.

What are green roads?

The basic premises of green roads are based on what we already understand as ‘green’:


  • the use of recycled and recyclable materials
  • cutting greenhouse gas emissions
  • promoting community involvement
  • minimizing water usage and the generation of waste.

Practical examples of green road implementation

To give you a better idea of what green roads mean, here are a few practical examples:

· using warm-mix, instead of hot-mix, tar to cut down on the emission of toxic fumes and pollutants

· integrating stormwater systems during the build to prevent water damage and minimize repairs

· installing traffic flow measures to avoid traffic jams, unnecessary idling, and the associated high levels of carbon emission

· creating multi-mode infrastructure suitable for pedestrians, bicycles, and electric cars

· maximizing community safety by installing walkways and pedestrian bridges.

How South Africa is embracing the concept of the green road

South Africa has notched up several successful Greenroads projects, with KwaZulu-Natal leading the way.

The Model Kloof Pedestrian Bridge in Ladysmith was recognized for creating a safe route between two communities over the N11. It provided road safety training and also involved school kids in an art installation project.

The M5 road rehabilitation program in eThekwini used warm-mix asphalt and reclaimed materials, while the resurfacing of the main road between Umhlanga and Umdloti is one of the featured success stories on the Greenroads.org website.

The technology of the future

Scientists and environmentalists are hard at work developing innovative ideas and technology to support the concept of the green road. This includes road materials that have no carbon footprint, cost 75 percent less than asphalt or tar, and are waterproof, renewable, incomparably tough, and durable.

Another great leap into the future is the suggested use of solar panels, instead of concrete or asphalt, to surface pavements.

These walkways will be able to capture the sun’s rays and produce electricity for the grid. Their construction and maintenance will be self-sustaining, and in sunny climes like ours, they could easily generate a profit.


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