ORIS Expert Series: What are the most impactful levers for carbon emissions reduction in road infrastructure?


By Renaud de Montaignac, COO of ORIS


Road construction has a heavy impact on the environment, due to large natural resource consumption, massive carbon emissions and uncontrolled maintenance requirements at short or medium term. 

With ORIS, our ambition is to allow our clients to find the optimum design solution for their linear infrastructure projects. Based on our local materials knowledge and on the project’s parameters, we use artificial intelligence to challenge the initial designs and offer solutions that reduce the overall carbon emissions from the project.

Through the analysis of our past projects and using a whole lifecycle approach, let’s look at the most impactful levers  for carbon emissions reduction in road construction,  from the extraction of raw material to the end-of-life stages: 


  • Local sources of materials: Transportation of materials used in a project is a key factor to mitigate carbon emissions. The more local, the less transportation needs and the less carbon emissions.
  • Low-carbon materials: Favoring materials with an embedded lower carbon footprint represent another important lever to reduce a road project’s carbon footprint. This seems obvious but without data available on the nearest low carbon materials, it’s not always simple.
  • Recycled materials: Using recycled materials such as construction & demolition waste or excavated material within the project is another important lever to reduce carbon footprint. Through a material flow analysis, we can develop circular economy solutions that avoid carbon emissions and reduce the need to extract raw materials. 
  • Layers optimisation: By selecting the right structure and layers, adapted to the local environment, constraints and project parameters, layers optimisation offers great potential. The adjustment of the layers’s thickness in the final design can offer additional gain for carbon reduction. It is about finding the optimum soil/traffic balance.
  • Anticipating maintenance needs: Depending on the chosen materials and pavement design, different maintenance options are required. Materials with a low carbon profile might require more maintenance needs. By comparing through a whole lifecycle, we can ensure the lowest CO2 impact over the lifetime of an infrastructure.

By comparing various options and sourcings, we see an overall improvement potential of up to 50% less carbon emissions.

ORIS allows to better understand the best design options for road projects in terms of carbon emissions. The platform computes data on local materials sourcing options, traffic, weather, etc. using artificial intelligence and compares different design options to improve the sustainability of road projects, from its carbon footprint to costs, natural resources, safety and resilience.


Learn more in this video