Frequently Asked Questions

Greenroads 1-pager

Free information to download and share.

What is a Greenroad?

A "Greenroad" is a transportation project that is designed and constructed to a level of sustainability substantially higher than current common practice.

Greenroads provides environmental, economic and social benefits. Greenroads Projects efficiently use resources and renewable materials, help reduce emissions, manage waste, enablemultimodal transport, and are designed to be accessible by all.

What is the Greenroads Rating System?

The Greenroads Rating System is the only third-party, points-based system available to certify sustainable transportation infrastructure projects. The system provides metrics to measure the effect of design and construction practices which can be implemented on a project to earn points toward one of four awards, called "Ratings." Learn more.

Why should I use the Greenroads Rating System?

  • Leading-Edge. Greenroads sets the standard for the industry with a Rating System that is carefully researched and continually updated.
  • Easy. The Greenroads Rating System is a practical and user-friendly performance metric that spells out the different elements of sustainable roadways and provides you with a quantifiable means for assessment.
  • Tested. More than 100 projects have been used as case studies to test and refine the Greenroads Rating System.
  • Non-Biased. The Greenroads Rating System is the only third-party system for transportation infrastructure projects — all other programs are self-assessment tools. This means that a Greenroad's road meets the highest level of sustainability.
  • Growing Community. Greenroads has an active community of members who  sharebest practices and lessons learned so you don’t have to re-create the wheel.
  • Education. A certified Greenroad educates drivers and road users, and reinforces your commitment to sustainability.

How is it different from other transportation-related systems?

The Greenroads Rating System is the only third-party system for transportation infrastructure projects — all other programs are self-assessment tools or try to compare different types of infrastructure projects to each other with the same tool. Plus, the Greenroads certification process is independent, transparent, way easier to use, and it's fun to be a part of it.

Greenroads provides explicit documentation instructions and tangible achievements, as well as quantifiable sustainability benefits supported by rigorous empirical evidence.

In short, it's the real deal. Our goal is to share information and coach teams to build a more sustainable projects with rigorous assessment tools to clearly prove you've met real and documented sustainability goals.  This is no self-assessment or pat on the back. City leaders, highway agencies, and funders love Greenroads. 

Does a Greenroad cost more?

A Greenroad actually often costs less because the materials, technologies and systems used make it more durable, so it requires less maintenance. New best practices save money, most notably during construction.

How does the Rating System work?

The Greenroads Rating System is a collection of sustainable roadway design and construction best practices that encompass water, environment, access, community impact, construction practices and materials. Each practice is assigned a point value according to its contribution to roadway sustainability.

At a minimum, there are 12 "Project Requirements” that must be completed for a roadway to be considered a Greenroad. There are also 45 "Core Credits" that a project can choose to pursue in 5 different categories: Enviroment & Water, Construction Activities, Materials & Design, Utilities & Controls and Access & Livability. Greenroads assigns a project score based on the number of points amassed by meeting the requirements and achieving credits. This score translates to one of four certification levels: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Evergreen.

Which types of projects can use the Greenroads Rating System?

It is applicable to all types and sizes of transportation projects, including new, rehabilitation, reconstruction, preservation, overlay and bridge projects and even trails. (We've tested it, it's true.) For anything not on this list, we suggest you try a Pilot Project. If you're not sure, submit a screening application and we'll check it out for you.

Can you rate a big project?

Yes, we split it into smaller pieces. We may not use the same definition of "project" that you do. Bigger projects (more than $100 million) and even complex small projects have to be addressed in special ways for certification. Please refer to the “What We Do” section of the Greenroads website here.

Can you rate a project in design only?

Yes, we can score it but no, it cannot be certified until it is constructed. We have a few different ways to score a project in design. Please refer to the “Rate My Project” section on the Greenroads website here.

How many projects have been rated with the Greenroads Rating System to date?

Since 2011, more than 200 projects of various types, sizes and stages of design and construction applied the Greenroads Rating System. The biggest Certified Project to date is more than $1 billion and the smallest is less than $100,000.

Case studies, including scorecards and sustainability performance information (where available) can be found here. If you are looking for the old stuff (more than 120 projects rated prior to 2011) drop us an email and we can send you the highlights.

Most projects ratings to date have been completed using the Version 1.5 Greenroads Manual, which is now archival. We expect to see a few more than 50 total projects certified with Version 1.5 through the end of 2016, the rest are V2 registered (or have opted-in to upgrade).

Who will benefit from using the Greenroads Rating System?

The Greenroads Rating System benefits roadway owners, transportation planners, designers, contractors, developers, policy makers, materials suppliers and students.

How do we make roads greener?

With existing knowledge, smarter design and available technologies, roads can be sustainable, connective and durable – starting today. Greenroads seeks to go beyond conventional practice and regulations to optimize various elements that contribute to roadway sustainability, including:

  • Ecology and environment. Reduce stormwater runoff and pollutants by improving systems. Design roadways for multi-modal transportation and the incorporation of Electric Vehicle infrastructure. Reduce greenhouse gases emissions from idling by controlling traffic flow.
  • Social equity and safety. Design and build roads with a focus on community health and access. Greenroads provides quantifiable ways to make roads more accessible, transit/pedestrian/bike friendly, integrated with the community and safer.
  • Responsible use of limited resources. Existing roads are 100% recyclable. This means that recycled content can be used in both new construction and when rehabilitating existing roads.

What are the benefits of greening our transportation projects?

A Greenroads Certified Project provides many benefits including:

  • Lower initial cost: It costs less to use recycled materials – and using resources more effectively results in less waste. Smarter designing and planning processes also reduce the need for additional infrastructure (i.e. installing a proper drainage system up front eliminates major problems in the future).
  • Lower lifecycle costs: A Greenroad costs less to operate and maintain because the materials, technologies and systems used are designed to be more durable.
  • Lower user cost: Fewer construction projects needed to fix roadway issues means reduced traffic impacts.
  • Strengthens the local economy: Sustainable roadway construction supports green job initiatives and the use of locally-sourced materials.
  • Higher property values: Commercial and residential properties surrounded by a smart and durable infrastructure benefit from higher property values.
  • Healthy communities and people: Multi-modal corridors improve mobility, and increase health and vitality within a community (i.e. sidewalks increase community interaction and create healthy, walkable environments).
  • Reduced environmental impact: A Greenroad reduces stormwater runoff, and protects and improves sensitive habitat.

How are transportation projects currently impacting the environment in a negative way?

Roads and other surface transportation infrastructure only covers one-percent of the U.S. but the ecological effects are widespread. Environmental problems include pollution, noise, advancement of sprawl and degradation of natural habitat. Roads and rails create barriers to interaction in communities and divide ecosystems that need to be connected to survive. Here are some statistics:

  • The amount of impervious roadways is equivalent to the size of the state of Ohio. The negative environmental effects of impervious surfaces are numerous: eliminate rainwater infiltration and groundwater recharge; lead to runoff and pollute rivers, lakes and estuaries; and raise air temperature, producing a “heat island” effect.
  • One third of the country’s energy consumption and CO2 emissions are directly tied to the transportation sector.
  • Conventional roads consume a lot of energy to build: a one mile long, one-lane road uses as much energy to build as 100 American households in one year (between 2-4 terrajoules).

And, 90% of new transportation development is happening outside developed countries around the world. 90%!

Why was Greenroads Foundation formed?

Road design standards, construction methods and measurements have remained relatively stagnant for the last five decades and are out of date in the modern world. Fifty years ago, roads were designed mainly for cars, with the goal focused simply on getting from one place to the other. Road construction was driven by the belief that they should be built as cheaply as possible, which often led to negative community impacts and environmental consequences.

Even if no new roads are built from this point forward, existing roads need to be fixed, and the system for designing and constructing transportation infrastructure needs to be updated. Just as buildings are being designed to be more resource-efficient, healthier and long-lasting, there are methods to design and build roadways to be sustainable, durable, and benefit the surrounding community and greater ecosystem. The Greenroads Rating System offers metrics to change practice in a sustainable way, and provides resources for effective ways to evaluate and incorporate the latest technologies and systems.

Who founded Greenroads Foundation?

Greenroads was founded as a company in summer 2010 in Washington state by Jeralee Anderson and Steve Muench.

You can read the huge list of authors and contributors who helped create the original Manual and all about our research sponsors. Check out the Member Directory to see our Founding Sponsors.

Can I use Greenroads as an information source? Can I use the logo?

You are welcome to use Greenroads as an information source, but please properly reference Greenroads. Do not use the logo without Greenroads’ permission. Refer to the Trademark & Copyright Policy.

Will You Review My Competitively Bid and Confidential Project?

Yes! We fully respect and honor all requests for confidentiality. If your project is confidential (i.e. in a competitive bid), let us know when you submit your free screening application, and we will omit it from the public listing in the Project Directory. Note that our staff operates fully independently of your potential competitors and we do not share your information with others, or the owners.

Our preferred scenario is to work with an Owner Agency that is a member organization, on their team. Forevergreen Agency membership provides bidder support and training to interested prospective teams on behalf of the agency.

Where Do I Find My Project To Upload Stuff?

If you are linked to a Project Team, you can access your Project Workspace from your personal Portfolio on your My Profile Page when you are logged in.

How Do I Provide Comments to Greenroads

There are at least four ways to provide comments to Greenroads.

  1. Formally using our handy dandy comment form, no pun intended
  2. Those with a subscription to the Rating System Online can post directly on the "Comments" tab on the credit, similar to commenting on a blog.
  3. You can use the contact us form to send us a note.
  4. You can comment or post on social media.

We try to return answers promptly and answer in the same level of formality that the comment was received.

I Have a Technical Question about a credit or a specific project.

We offer free technical support by phone for active and prospective projects to our Gold and Evergreen Members in good standing only. We do not review documents or rate projects over email. We also do not provide technical clarifications or responses would be potentially listed as an errata over email. We may treat these scenarios as formal errata or amendments to the Rating System.

For specific case questions, if you are working on a Registered Project, you have a few options:

  1. Search the blog and website to see if we have already answered your question or if there is a project like yours.
  2. Make a 15 minute appointment during an office hours session for our Active Project Teams on Wednesdays to see if you can get verbal help from staff
  3. File a technical support request immediately for a small fee
  4. Wait till your next submittal to receive feedback through the normal rating process.

If you are not working on a Greenroads Registered Project, but still have questions about Greenroads credits, you may file a technical support request for a small fee.

Where is the STP Exam? I registered for the exam but I can't find it.

We use an offsite learning management system located here: http://learn.greenroads.org. Note that there is no "www." You will need to use your Greenroads login credentials to access anything there.

Where is my STP Certificate?

Your STP Certificates are uploaded to your My Profile Page and can be downloaded once you are logged in. We grade exams and prepare certificates approximately once a month, starting the first  week of the month. Depending on the size of the examinee pool for that month, it can take a bit of time for us to create and upload them.

What happened to the Manual?

The Greenroads Manual v1.5 was published in 2011. It still serves as perfectly good, free guidance on best practices for project teams. However all of the credit goals, requirements and documentation elements are now out of use in actual Certification. There are also several credits which have been dismissed from the system altogether. You can find it under Archived Resources.

How Much Does Greenroads Cost?

With any sustainability rating system, there are hard costs (the set value of fees for participating in Greenroads programs) and often soft costs. Soft costs are those costs associated with the time for people to use and apply the tool in their daily practice, and these costs can vary wildly depending on the scope of the project, the expected duration of construction, the team composition, the knowledge level and experience of the team, the scope of services, and most importantly, how these costs are classified and categorized so they are allocated fairly to the amount of time it actually takes to do Greenroads.

We'll be honest, to be successful, Greenroads definitely does take some time and effort to do even for those groups that are already doing sustainable things most of the time. (That's the point, eh?) There are absolutely ways to manage the soft costs for a project, just like any other soft costs either internal to the agency, or directly through a consultant or project management team. It is much more difficult to estimate the learning curve.

What we have seen, and strongly do NOT recommend, is itemizing Greenroads credits in a construction bid for the purpose of "figuring out what it costs" which is a false perception for the actual outcome. We've blogged about this and what might be a better solution for conventionally bid projects. 

We'll also put it out there that most projects start far too late. This costs all parties more and also means that in general, the potential score for the project is much lower, or that the project may not be eligible to certify..

The hard costs are easier to know with more certainty - just ask us for an estimate and we are happy to provide one for your project.

Can ___________ funds be used for Greenroads Projects?

Yes. There is precedence at all levels of government for use of many types of funds, including federal/national, state/provincial, and city/county/local. Greenroads is typically considered to be a quality assurance expense by most owner agencies. "It's like a friendly plan check process." - Raymond Chang, STP Beca, Ltd. It's' a little morethan that, since plan checks don't measure performance like we do, but yes, sort of like that.

Are there grants for Greenroads?

None that we are aware of specifically. If you find one, let us know. Many grants do have sustainability criteria as part of their award conditions, and Greenroads can help satisfy many, if not more of these criteria (including TIGER, TIGGER, MAP-21 criteria projects).

I want to volunteer for Greenroads to keep up my STP Credential.

Great, check out this page for small projects with hour equivalencies and let us know what you feel like you might like to try. We'll set up a time to train you on a Friday that is convenient.

What is the relationship between Greenroads and INVEST? I'm confused.

Staff and board members of Greenroads are actually some of the original authors for the Federal Highway Administration's free self-assessment tool (like our free checklist) called INVEST. They are fundamentally different tools that both fit the transportation discipline, and if you look closely at the credits in Greenroads and the criteria in INVEST, they are extremely similar, especially for project development. Hmmm....no surprise there. You will probably find it looks more like Greenroads V1.5 than Greenroads V2 though many of the original ideas from V1.5 are retained in V2.

INVEST is a great tool to use to prepare a project early on for successful Greenroads Certification, especially in early highway planning and development. Greenroads also offers 1 free INVEST rating for any Greenroads Registered Project with U.S. federal funds, by request, if for some reason you need it.