Provincial road to combat climate change

A road with 21 innovations that saves so much CO2 that it even contributes to the combat against climate change. Construction company BAM won the innovative and challenging tender for the N211, by the Province of Zuid-Holland. "This has never been done before in the Netherlands."

The Province intended to save 4,000 tons of CO2 that would be emitted during the construction work on the road from The Hague to the Westland. The winning plan is based on 21 innovations which will compensate as much as 13,000 tons of CO2.

“The road not only compensates CO2, but takes on another 9,000 tons on top of the original 4,000 tons CO2”, says Ronald van Hulst, manager of BAM Infra Regional. With that, the road serves as an example, Regional Minister Floor Vermeulen mentions during a press conference about the road on Friday 15 September. “We have encouraged contractors to construct the road with the sustainable technology of the future, and allowed room for field tests of the even more advanced sustainable solutions.” The Province doesn't do all this only to renew its own road management, but also to inspire other authorities. “We really make a valuable contribution to the climate targets with this road. Once it is finished, other authorities are more than welcome to come and see. Because here, the innovations literally are for grabs.

Heat and cold storage

The road is to be finished in the autumn of 2018. The construction starts in the first quarter of 2018. But, which innovations do the parties involved mean? Giel-Jan Bogaert of BAM Infra Nederland briefly describes a few innovations.  The road will have heat and cold storage.

“Which will not only serve to keep the road free of snow during the winter, but will also heat and cool businesses and private homes in the environment. The side-effect is that the road will be cooled in summer, which will result in a longer life expectancy.” In addition, the N211 will receive lamp posts with vertically integrated solar panels.

Lennert van den Berg of FlexSol Solutions from Delft: “No dirt will attach to these vertically integrated posts. We even deliver these in desert areas, and now, also in the Netherlands.”

To construct as level as possible

BAM will construct the road as level as possible. Bogaert: “That seems simple, but isn't at all, for you have to keep that in mind as early as in the preparatory construction phase. If it remains sufficiently smooth, however, we can reduce the private car fuel consumption on the road by 2.5%. A pilot of this scale has never been done before. We will therefore monitor the results very carefully.” Even formic acid, which has nothing to do with ants, is part of this project. Max Aerts of the multidisciplinary student team ‘FAST’ Technical University Eindhoven: “CO2, water and sustainable electricity are combined into a liquid, which we reconvert into energy. That system was conceived as range extender for a bus: using this, the bus can cover longer distances. But the beauty of it is that we have the possibility here to test it in a different setting. During the construction as an energy supply instead of diesel generators, but in another context as well, as energy for horticulturists.”

Looking for the lowest cost

“We have many different applications for solar panels", adds Bogaert. “We are applying wooden portals for traffic lights and there will be educational play equipment on sustainability at meeting points.” A mini-energy plant is also worth mentioning, says Bogaert. “In cooperation with ABC Westland, we are installing solar panels on their roofs.” William Harding of Sweco, the engineering firm that managed the request, calls the project very special. “In particular, because it wasn't the lowest price that counted, but the overall lowest cost for the entire life expectancy. The Netherlands could learn a few things from this. This project could easily be scaled-up to other roads and other authorities and contractors.” “And that is the plan”, says Regional Minister Vermeulen at the end. “This changes the way in which we, as province, design our roads. With even more links with their surroundings. For instance, the business community, local residents and municipalities. This is how we implement the ambitions in the national climate agreement."