Helping people in the north work toward their carbon neutrality goals, the municipality of Groningen has invested heavily in more sustainable paving materials, ditching traditional, higher carbon methods of manufacturing in order to improve their impact on the local environment.
GemGroReflection has become the most sustainable asphalt mixture, which was developed with modern technologies to help reduce carbon produced during the manufacture, while increasing the volume of recycled material.
This includes switching operations from hot mix to warm mix asphalt.
Warm mix asphalt boasts a wealth of benefits from carbon savings, reducing build costs by improving productivity and crucially, enhancing life-expectancy – all whilst offering the same quality and performance, ensuring Groningen roads remain durable and safe.
By being produced at lower temperatures, the new mix allows for a significant reduction in CO2 emissions by using less fossil fuels and energy during the manufacturing process. In addition, nuisance fuming, odor and steam during the manufacture is minimal, creating a safer environment for workers, as well as minimizing risk to local residents.
A key part of the newly developed manufacturing process is the re-use of the old asphalt from the existing road network. The new method allows for an easy and efficient recycling of any reclaimed asphalt and inclusion of other recycled and secondary content into the mix.
Higher heat resistance means increased sustainability
In addition, the new mix contains special white aggregates because light-colored road surfaces are known to have lower temperatures when exposed to strong solar radiation. “GemGroReflection is lighter than the black asphalt you are used to,” road specialist Ronald Rosman says. “As the traffic drives over it and it wears out, white stones become visible. And that has a lot of advantages. The white stones cause a drop in surface temperature. On a cloudless sunny day, the surface temperature of this asphalt is 10 to 15 degrees lower than that of the black asphalt.”
This, in turn, increases the new surface’s deformation stability considerably and reduces rutting. Rosman says that a temperature reduction can improve deformation stability significantly. “GemGroReflection is expected to last longer than the usual fifteen years. This is due to the drop in temperature and because of the reduction of rutting in the road surface,” Rosman explains. “It’s all very simple: less rutting means less maintenance. That leads to less CO2 emissions.”
The improvements follow the municipality effort to become more sustainable. In the period from 1990 to 2019, Groningen has reduced its carbon emissions by 700,000 kilotons per year (or 26 percent), putting the province in a strong position to meet its target of becoming carbon neutral by 2050. The province has also shown progress in other areas, including waste reduction, cleaner transportation, and new sustainable building certifications.