• Green Ratings of Highways

    The concept of green encompasses the mechanism of conserving, enhancing and managing the quality and quantity of natural resources. Getting green in other words is getting conducive to nature. Green highway is the one which is designed, constructed and maintained with the ultimate aim of conserving, enhancing and managing the quality and quantity of natural resources. The degree of green interventions, however may differ from project to project as technologies required depend on their economic feasibility, technical knowhow and availability of means to make use of a technology.

    Green rating of highways refers to rating of various components of highways in terms of their environment friendliness. The rating is being introduced to encourage a qualitative assessment of environmental sustainability of highways.

    Our country has voluntarily committed in Conference of Parties (COP-21) to reduce the carbon emission intensity of its GDP by 30 to 35 percent by 2030 from 2005 level. Road Transportation is one amongst the major carbon emission contributing sectors. Our country has more than 2.5 lakhs km of NH’s, and SH’s network spread all over the country that leaves behind its environmental footprint (including carbon footprint) during construction, maintenance and operation.

    USA has established a number of green rating systems including “Green Roads” developed in 2010 for Green rating of Highways. At present, there is no such system in India that can quantify the environmental footprint of upcoming and ongoing projects.

    The Guidelines for Green Rating of Highways has been recently formulated by Indian Roads Congress to help all stakeholders in identifying the degree of greener interventions to be made oralready made in a green field or existing road project. These guidelines will help produce a rating forthe reductions in environmental footprint of highway projects and hence enable the road authorities towards assessing the contribution of the main highways in achieving the commitment in COP-21.

    All the stakeholders can use the rating system in making scientific and qualitative assessmentof various alternatives studied for a particular highway project in terms of their environmentalfriendliness. The rating system will provide a scale for determining the index of environmentfriendliness of a highway project also leading to adoption of environment friendly practices inroad projects. Apart from financial and technical feasibility, environmental feasibility should alsobecome an integral part of decision making. Highway projects should be evaluated based on theirown project specific conditions.

    These green rating guidelines for highways have been developed with an attempt to overcome the major limitations of the present rating systems, which lack objectiveness in the criteria selection and weighting process considering existing environmental legislations in India and overall Indianperspective.

    Green rating takes account of environment friendly, innovative techniques such as recycling ofmaterials, use of renewable resources use of soil stabilizers for stabilizing in situ soils, warm mixtechnology, construction and demolition waste etc. that have just started to come into practice in the country. The system has 13 mandatory Qualifying Criteria (QC) and 7 Evaluating Criteria (EC) with 24 sub-criteria. Mandatory qualifying criteria are the bare minimum requirements for rating a project while Evaluation Criteria are based on various parameters related to environment that needsto be quantified for all the alternatives of a particular project.

    IRC is shortly going to release this document as IRC:SP: 122-2019 entitled “Guidelines for Green Rating of Highways”. These guidelines will mark the beginning of adopting the green rating approach for evaluating roads and highways. Green ratings once provided to projects can be used for greenfinancing by floating green bonds in the market. It can also be used for providing various incentivesfor projects using sustainable/environment friendly / low carbon technology in the project.

    IRC would welcome any feedback/ difficulties faced in use of these Guidelines so that furtherimprovements in Guidelines can be carried out.

    Written by : Sanjay Kumar Nirmal, Secretary General, IRC, Reference : Indian Highways - August,2019



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