Commuters in Bellingham, Washington, are now driving on the nation’s first Greenroads Foundation-certified roadway. Northshore Drive Road features recycled porcelain from over 400 crushed toilets, asphalt with 30% recycled content, recycled concrete, porous pavements that naturally treat runoff and provide effective stormwater management, low-energy LED street lighting and new amenities and improvements for pedestrians and bicycles.
Bellingham’s environmentally friendly road reflects five years of planning and research. It includes 11 project requirements geared toward sustainable roadway design, construction practices and materials that address water safety and environmental and community impact as well as 37 voluntary credits that a project team can pursue to boost their road’s certification level, which, much like the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards for buildings, can be rated Bronze, Silver, Gold or Evergreen. Northshore Drive earned Silver certification
“The Greenroads rating system can be used to help manage, improve and communicate sustainability,” says Steve Muench, a founder and board member of the foundation. “It represents an independent verification of sustainable features that truly matter and make a difference.”
Greenroads-certified projects typically boast a lower initial cost than conventional roads by utilizing recycled materials and also strengthen local economies by supporting green job initiatives and the use of locally sourced materials. Since the launch of the certification program in January 2011, Greenroads has overseen more than 18 in-progress or pilot stage projects throughout the U.S, Canada and New Zealand
“Sustainable roadways are not just a dream,” says Jeralee Anderson, executive director of Greenroads Foundation. “The [Bellingham] project is a great example of the mission of the organization and further defines the practical steps that can be taken to green our roads—both nationally and internationally.”