How the Netherlands constructed its first carbon-neutral highway

Created: June 3, 2019. Updated: June 3, 2019.

Through public-private collaboration, and by setting clear and ambitious targets, the A6 project resulted in the first carbon-neutral highway ever built in the Netherlands. But it is unlikely to be the last as lessons from the project will be applied to future tendering processes.

From the very beginning of the A6 highway extension project, which is part of the Schiphol-Amsterdam-Almere program, the Rijkswaterstaat (Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management) set a high target when it came to the carbon footprint.

“We really challenged the contractor, and they gave us a bid that would make the project carbon-neutral in the operational phase,” says Ingeborg Ligtenberg, Senior Project Manager, Rijkswaterstaat. “To reduce carbon, you have to be brave and set challenges, and this means being focused and having clear targets.”

Reducing diesel consumption was an important criterion, and to achieve this, the contractor elected to ship much of the sand needed directly into the project area. This greatly reduced the need for truck transportation and had a significant impact on reducing the project’s carbon footprint.

Having now built the Netherlands’ first carbon neutral highway, the Rijkswaterstaat will take what lessons it can from the project to help reduce carbon footprints further in all future construction projects.

“With every tender we learn from the previous project, so that we can step it up with the next tender phase and challenge ourselves as much as possible,” adds Ingeborg Ligtenberg. “Our contractors are learning too. You have to learn together because it is a new so field and we cannot do it ourselves. To achieve carbon neutrality, it has to be done throughout the complete chain with private and public collaboration, and you have to trust each other.”

The episode is also released on CCC YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. The Construction Climate Talks series by the Construction Climate Challenge initiative highlights some of the most important issues in climate sustainability today. See all the previous episodes here:

The Construction Climate Challenge (CCC) is an initiative hosted by Volvo Construction Equipment to promote sustainability throughout the entire construction industry value chain and provide funding for environmental research. The Construction Climate Challenge is a part of the Volvo CE commitment to WWF’s Climate Savers Program. Volvo Construction Equipment is a Corporate Advisory Board member of the World Green Building Council.