Building Sustainable Roads: a Voluntary Commitment of Road Construction and Maintenance Companies

Building Sustainable Roads: a Voluntary Commitment of Road Construction and Maintenance Companies


P Danzanvilliers, Sétra, FR


The paper present the voluntary agreement for construction and maintenance of road infrastructures between public works and earthworks companies and the French Ministry of sustainable development to build and maintain sustainable roads.


In 2007-2008 the French government initiated an Environment Round Table, named "Grenelle-environnement", to define the key points of government policy on ecological and sustainable development issues for the coming years. The Round Table brought together the civilian and public service representatives together around the discussion table, thus forming 5 colleges: the State, unions, employers, NGOs and local authorities.

These key points involve a fight against climate change, preserving biodiversity and natural resources, prevention of environmental risks and health and promoting environmental development patterns favorable to competitiveness and employment.

In the road sector, the public works companies that provide construction, rehabilitation, and maintenance of road infrastructure and urban streets(1 million km existing) are ready to face this challenge with all their clients. Three national federations of public works and earthworks companies plan to sign with the The French Ministry of ecology, energy, sustainable development and land planning a voluntary agreement for construction and maintenance of road infrastructures. Sétra, Technical Department for Transport, Roads and Bridges Engineering (Service d?études sur les transports, les routes et leurs aménagements) was in charge of discussions and negotiations with the federations. At this planning stage, the main points of this agreement are listed below.

Reuse or recover 100% of natural geological materials :
By 2020, earthworks companies set the goal of reuse or recover 100% of natural geological materials excavated on sites. They also undertake to avoid borrowing or quarrying projects outside : "zero external input". According to the geotechnical characteristics of the sites, the percentage of reuse of materials is generally between 40% and 80%.

Achieve a recycling 100% of the roads :
The road construction companies will favor solutions that save non-renewable natural resources by encouraging better use of waste of deconstruction by opting for an increased recycling of materials and public works waste. By 2012 they undertake to pass a recycling rate from approximately today 20% to 60% of bituminous materials from the deconstruction road.

Preserve biodiversity and natural environment :
Under a general partnership with the owners, road construction and earthworks companies will attempt, during work operations, to preserve biodiversity and ensure the preservation of natural land and water environment. Methodologies and recommendations will be compiled and disseminated to companies later in 2012.

Reduce greenhouse gases emissions and energy consumption :
Road construction and earthworks companies pledge in 2020 to reduce by 33% emissions of greenhouse gases associated with earthworks, road maintenance and construction.
From 2012 the road construction companies want to reduce by 10% in CO2 emissions due to the progress on transport, bituminous mixing plants and road products.

Reduce consumption of water on earthworks sites :
For reasons of safety and pollution, large amounts of water are used to prevent flying dust on the tracks of sites. Current practices are largely empirical. Reduce water consumption on site needs to rethink and codify methods of watering tracks previously used. The earthworks companies undertake to prepare recommendations for the profession. They lead on the validation of Watering Plans. Monitoring tools to measure progress and targets for reducing water consumption will be set in 2012. The ambition is to halve water consumption.

Increase the environmental performance of Road companies :
To facilitate the comparison of environmental solutions, an "Eco-comparator" common to companies will be established. The indicators focus on energy consumption, greenhouse gases emissions, conservation of natural resource. This tool which will come in the second half of 2009 should be validated by the public authorities.

Improve road safety, workers, users and local residents safety :
The signatories agree to undertake a special effort on the implementation conditions for works under traffic. They want to develop the actions for friendly and eco-driving. A Road Safety Charter incorporating these two objectives will be signed in 2009 between the profession and the public authorities.

Participate in the development of research and dissemination of innovation :
Ambitions in sustainable development can not be achieved without new tools, methods and methodologies preparing the technological breakthroughs of tomorrow. Earthworks and road construction companies are committed to increase research and collaboration with the technical network of the French ministry of Sustainable Development and the special Committee on Road Innovation. The French ministry of Sustainable Development will ensure the promotion and deployment of these innovations innovations through Sétra, which is the technical department in charge of the dissemination of road construction and maintenance techniques.

This agreement could be slightly modified before the signing.


Association for European Transport