Project details



Self-sustaining Urban Roads: A way to improve Environmental performance of urban areas

Start date: 01.01.2013

Duration: 60 months

Coordinator: SACYR Construcción

Budget: 2.38 M€


In 2005, 76% of the total population of Western Europe - or 141 million people - lived in urban areas. By 2030, it is projected that this figure will have increased to 81.7%. 

One of the key impacts of greater numbers in our urban spaces is increased demand on urban transport networks. Authorities are confronted with the challenge of reconciling the ever-growing need for transport with the desire for sustainable cities. Increased transport is typically associated with environmental problems such as air and noise pollution, which can also have a significant negative impact on human health and well-being.

The construction of roads produces several specific environmental challenges. The OECD estimates that 10 000 m3 of aggregates are needed for each kilometre of two-lane road and large amounts of fossil fuels are consumed. Road construction is thus associated with the consumption of raw materials and the generation of a number of air pollutants, including particulate matter (PM), nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulphur oxides (SOx), carbon monoxide (CO), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and carbon dioxide (CO2).

The LIFESURE project aims to minimise the consumption of natural resources in road construction by producing and demonstrating the effectiveness of an innovative eco-friendly technology for manufacturing eco-asphalt on site. Through this technology it is hoped to be able to reduce the consumption of raw materials and fossil fuels and make a contribution to the creation of more sustainable cities with an improved quality of life.

The project aims to develop a prototype of an on-site asphalt plant using reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP) as raw material. It targets the manufacture of half-warm - manufacturing temperature <100°C - mix asphalt using either 50% or 100% RAP. As a specific technical target it aims to validate the viability of implementing LIFESURE eco-asphalt with only 0.03 tonnes of binder added per tonne of asphalt mixture and without additional natural aggregates.

The project aims to demonstrate that use of LIFESURE eco-asphalt can feasibly create self-sustaining urban roads. It will test a total of 18 000m2 of low-speed (<50 km/h) road with 100% RAP eco-asphalt in surface and binder layers against standard hot-mix asphalt both on a test track and in the real conditions of a Madrid street. Evaluation will include a lifecycle assessment comparing LIFESURE eco-asphalt and conventional hot-mix recycling asphalt.

The project hopes to demonstrate that LIFESURE eco-asphalt can improve the environmental performance of urban roads, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and noise pollution, whilst reducing costs for road authorities. To encourage the long-term use of its eco-asphalts, the project will develop a network of contacts interested in the LIFESURE concept and draft recommendations for Green Public Procurement (GPP) in road construction.

List of achievements

Expected results:

  • Production of 3 279 tonnes of LIFESURE eco-asphalt;
  • Reduction in consumption of natural aggregates at demonstration sites by 2 531 tonnes and consequently the avoidance of 5 062 kg eq. CO2;
  • A 62% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions because of the reduction of the manufacturing temperature by 70°C – equating to 72 000 kg eq. CO2;
  • A 35% reduction in binder consumption - equating to 65.6 tonnes of binder;
  • A 20% reduction in noise in the area around the test sections;
  • Valorisation of 3 554 tonnes of reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP);
  • Demonstration of the self-sustainability of low-speed (<50km/h) urban roads constructed with eco-asphalt; and
  • A 66% reduction in the cost per tonne of asphalt for 100% RAP eco-asphalt and a 51% reduction in the cost of 50% RAP eco-asphalt.


Contact person: Antonio RAMIREZ
Address: SACYR Construcción