Knowledge CentreTechnical ProjectsLow-Carbon Road Infrastructure: Opportunities for Canada

Low-Carbon Road Infrastructure: Opportunities for Canada


Canada’s federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments are committed to reducing national carbon emissions, and many have established related targets (typically to reach “net zero” by 2050 or sooner). Proactive efforts will be required for Canada’s transportation sector to contribute meaningfully to meeting those targets. Some countries (e.g. the United Kingdom) have established national strategies to reduce carbon emissions from road construction and operation, and Canadian stakeholders would benefit from similar guidance.

A central part of TAC’s mandate is to coordinate the development and sharing of knowledge about road infrastructure materials and processes; the Association is thus the natural forum for major Canadian stakeholders to collaborate on actions to reduce the carbon footprint of Canada’s roads. Furthermore, TAC’s 500 public- and private-sector member organizations include the vast majority of the authorities responsible for road construction and operation in Canada; almost 250 of these organizations are active on TAC’s influential volunteer councils and committees.


This pooled-fund project will identify, assess and prioritize practices that can reduce life-cycle carbon emissions related to road infrastructure materials and processes; it is not intended to support “net zero” or any other policy target, in accordance with TAC’s neutral technical mandate. Practices of interest will be grouped into six major topics: asset management; construction; maintenance and operations; pavement design and management; soils and materials; and structures.[1]

For each major topic, the project will identify:

  • Practices with significant potential to reduce life-cycle carbon emissions from road infrastructure materials (e.g. concrete, asphalt, aggregate, steel, coatings) or processes (e.g. design, specification, procurement, transport, placement, monitoring, reporting, recycling)
  • The scope of potential impact of each practice on life-cycle carbon emissions
  • The risks, costs and uncertainties associated with each practice
  • The parties involved in each practice, and their roles and responsibilities
  • High-level guidance for road authorities to identify the most promising practices in different contexts, apply those practices, and evaluate their impacts
  • Recommendations for stakeholders to independently or collaboratively monitor and report on emission reductions
  • Recommendations for work to develop useful additional information, with a focus on future technical activities by TAC committees


The key project stages and tasks are described below (note that these are subject to modification by the organizations that contribute funding to the project and form its steering committee):

Stage 1: Identification of issues and opportunities

  • International literature review
  • Surveys of Canadian road authorities, not-for-profit organizations, businesses and academics to identify current practices, opportunities and challenges related to the project topics
  • Online workshops with six stakeholder TAC committees (Asset Management Committee, Construction Committee, Maintenance & Operations Committee, Pavements Committee, Soils & Materials Committee, Structures Committee) to identify known interests and issues

Stage 2: Assessment of opportunities and identification of beneficial practices

  • Categorization of opportunities of interest identified within each major topic (i.e. practices related to materials and/or processes) or bridging multiple topics (e.g. carbon accounting, procurement)
  • Evaluation of potential impacts on life-cycle carbon emissions as well as risks, costs and uncertainties for each opportunity of interest
  • Identification of synergies and tensions between opportunities of interest, particularly those that involve different major topics or life-cycle stages
  • Online workshops with six TAC stakeholder committees to solicit feedback on preliminary evaluation results
  • Identification and high-level prioritization of beneficial practices (i.e. the most promising opportunities)

Stage 3: Implementation guidance

  • Guidance for road authorities on the selection, application and evaluation of beneficial practices
  • Guidance for jurisdictional stakeholders to collectively monitor and report on progress
  • Recommended further work by TAC committees
  • Recommended next steps by other stakeholders


The principal project deliverables will be:

  • Technical Report, Stage 1: Issues and Opportunities – Describing the findings of the literature review, surveys and TAC committee workshops
  • Technical Report, Stage 2: Beneficial Practices – Describing the categorization and evaluation of practices of interest, and identifying the most promising opportunities
  • Technical Report, Stage 3: Implementation – Providing implementation guidance for road authorities on beneficial practices and progress measurement, and recommending further work and next steps
  • Summary Report – Describing a recommended framework for low-carbon road infrastructure in Canada, drawing on the three technical reports and feedback received from TAC committees, member organizations and stakeholders; it will be intended for consumption by a diverse audience of decision makers, practitioners, consultants, suppliers and non-profit organizations

Other project deliverables would depend on the availability and allocation of project funds, and could include knowledge transfer products such as fact sheets, webinars, symposiums or online training courses.

[1] To maintain a manageable scope of work the project will not address other road-related topics, including:

  • Planning (e.g. alignment, sizing, provision of facilities for transit and active transportation)
  • Traffic control and management (e.g. speed limits, signal coordination, incident response)
  • Greening or stormwater management in the right-of-way
  • Electric vehicle charging facilities and services
  • Energy use for street lighting and traffic control
  • Energy use for road authority buildings and employee travel
  • Demand management measures (e.g. road pricing, parking pricing, ridesharing, traveller information)

Focus Area:Infrastructure and Asset Management

Project Summary

In Development
Last Updated:
July, 2024
Responsible Council / Committee:
Infrastructure & Asset Management Council
Expected Duration:
24 months
Total Funding Estimate:
Staff Contact:Geoff Noxon