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The Alberta Transportation Green Sign Program

Environmental sustainability practices used by Alberta Transportation.

The Government of Alberta is committed to environmental excellence. Technology is the key to ensuring Alberta remains at the forefront of innovative and effective environmental management.

Where feasible, government uses highway design strategies and rehabilitation methods that incorporate elements of environmental sustainability. These efforts include recycling paving materials, reducing emissions when producing asphalt, creating and restoring wetlands, and protecting fish habitats. Alberta Transportation will be placing information signs on highway construction projects incorporating green design features or construction activities.

 

Projects with green signs will have included one or more of the following environmental practices.

In-Place Recycling is a process that conserves natural resources by recycling old pavement into new pavement. Projects with these signs will have included a minimum of five kilometres of in-place recycled pavement. Read more.

Warm Mix Asphalt is a product that reduces emissions and fuel usage, and improves the work environment for construction workers. Projects with these signs will have used a minimum of 30,000 tonnes of warm mix asphalt. Read more.

Recycled Pavement Materials conserve natural resources by adding reclaimed asphalt into new asphalt pavement mixes. Projects with these signs will have conserved a minimum of 5,000 tonnes of crushed aggregate. Read more.

Wetlands Restoration maintains and creates habitat for Alberta's aquatic and wildlife species. Projects with these signs will have increased the area of wetland ponds. Read more.

Enhancing Fish Passage allows fish access to productive habitat and is critical where access to spawning areas is limited. This type of effort helps maintain healthy and sustainable fish populations. Projects with these signs will have included at least one stream crossing where design features have been provided to maintain fish passage. Read more.

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In-Place Recycling
is a process that conserves natural resources by recycling old pavement into new pavement. Projects with these signs will have included a minimum of five kilometres of in-place recycled pavement.


A cold in-place recycling (CIR) unit.

In-place recycling involves the removal, recycling and placement of pavement; all completed on the highway surface without any hauling to, or mixing at, an off-site location. The two in-place recycling technologies used by Alberta Transportation are Cold In-Place Recycling (CIR) and Full Depth Reclamation (FDR).

In most cases, in-place recycling treatments can reduce future cracking and provide additional strength, thereby saving or reducing the use of new materials. This means natural resources - gravel and asphalt binder, which comes from crude - are conserved. There are also fewer emissions generated with this process as trucks do not have to haul materials off-site.


Warm Mix Asphalt
is a product that reduces emissions and fuel usage, and improves the work environment for construction workers. Projects with these signs will have used a minimum of 30,000 tonnes of warm mix asphalt.


Fumes when paving using hot mix asphalt


Fewer fumes when paving with warm mix asphalt.


A new generation mixing plant that produces both warm mix asphalt and recycled asphalt mixtures.

Hot mix asphalt is a product created at very high temperatures in an asphalt plant. In recent years, new types of asphalt plants and chemical additives have allowed asphalt to be produced at temperatures 20º to 50ºC below typical mixing temperatures. The mix produced is called warm mix asphalt (WMA).

With lower mixing temperatures there is less fuel usage and a corresponding reduction in emissions (e.g. nitric oxide, sulfur oxide, carbon dioxide). On the first large scale WMA project completed by Alberta Transportation in 2009, the contractor reported fuel savings of 11%. WMA is also better for workers as there are less asphalt fumes when placing the mix.

Alberta Transportation is working to further advance the use of WMA. For more information on WMA and its benefits, visit www.warmmixasphalt.com


Recycled Pavement Materials
conserve natural resources by adding reclaimed asphalt into new asphalt pavement mixes. Projects with these signs will have conserved a minimum of 5,000 tonnes of crushed aggregate.


A cold milling unit that can grind and remove
asphalt pavement

A common design strategy is to reclaim existing asphalt pavement and mix it into the new paving material. Alberta Transportation allows up to 30% of this material - reclaimed asphalt pavement or RAP - to be added at the asphalt mixing plant. In 2010, approximately 40% of the asphalt produced for Alberta Transportation included recycled material.

For each tonne of RAP material used, there is a corresponding reduction in the amount of crushed aggregate and asphalt cement used. This means natural resources are conserved.


Wetlands Restoration
is an activity that maintains and creates habitat for Alberta's aquatic and wildlife species. Projects with these signs will have increased the area of wetland ponds.


A newly created wetland on Hwy 63, just north of Wandering River. This wetland was designed with gentle side slopes, irregular shorelines with small bays, and an island. The idea is that this will provide a wide range of habitat for different wetland plants and animals. It is ideal to have biodiversity in both flora and fauna at these sites. (Photo courtesy of Sigfussion Northern)

Wetlands are complex and diverse habitats. On some construction projects, Alberta Transportation creates and restores wetlands to provide habitat for a variety of aquatic and wildlife species. Alberta Transportation's created and restored wetlands provide ecosystems whose characteristics mimic naturally occurring wetlands. These efforts help maintain, and in some cases increase, the amount of wetlands on the landscape, ultimately benefiting the environment.

Enhancing Fish Passage allows fish access to productive habitat and is critical where access to spawning areas is limited. This type of effort helps maintain healthy and sustainable fish populations. Projects with these signs will have included at least one stream crossing where design features have been provided to improve fish passage.

A fishway that was constructed to provide
fish passage around the Carmangary Weir
construction project on the Little Bow River.

This fish salvage operation was undertaken
during the construction of the McGregor dam.
When possible, Alberta Transportation
catches and releases fish when blocking off a
watercourse during construction.

Alberta Transportation constructs many bridges, culvert crossings, and water management structures throughout the province. It is important that these structures maintain the natural features and characteristics of the watercourses they cross in order to protect fish passage and habitat. These efforts help to maintain healthy fish populations for both sport and commercial species by ensuring their spawning and rearing habitats remain viable.