Sustainable roads are defined as “effectively and efficiently planned, designed, built, operated, upgraded and preserved roads by means of integrate policies respecting the environment and still providing the expected socio-economic services in terms of mobility and safety”.
While transport decarbonisation represents a main concern for the European Union, the road infrastructure sector has undertaken significant efforts to promote greener practices which could decrease energy consumption, reduce GHG emissions and natural resources consumption during the lifetime of the road.
Sustainability is not only limited to the environmental performance during road construction and maintenance operations but also broadens to the social and economic dimensions.
The social contribution includes needs of users in terms of mobility (improvement in the quality of passenger journeys), safety (reduction in the numbers of deaths and injuries to users) and physical accessibility of key services for citizens as jobs, education and healthcare, thus ensuring social cohesion at local and European level.
The economic dimension means that roads actively contribute to maximising the overall competitiveness and productivity of national economies, contributing to a sustained high level of GDP growth. As a consequence, roads must be cost-effective and continuously responsive to changing demands through the creation of a more competitive road transport sector. This implies that roads should keep on generating employment opportunities within the transport sector and beyond.
The Environment Programme of the ERF is devoted to raising awareness about the contribution of the road sector towards a more sustainable development from the social, economic and environmental dimensions. Efforts from ERF members are channelled through the Working Group of Sustainable Roads.