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Waterford County Council Wins BE Award For Integrating The Measurement Of Energy Usage During Road Construction, Operation Into Road Design And Route Selection


Waterford County Council in Ireland has won a BE Award for integrating the measurement of energy usage during road construction and operation into road design and route selection. Other project participants included roads, energy, geotechnical and software experts from the Czech Republic, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

The goal was to develop customized software that can automatically calculate the amount of energy used during road construction and operation. The software would be employed at the preliminary design or route selection stage of new projects to ensure that only the most efficient construction methods and roadway designs are used. Five proposed road schemes were evaluated during the project using the newly developed software.

The software produced, JouleSAVE, was developed by Bentley Professional Services and works with Bentley MXROAD. It allows engineers to automatically quantify energy requirements for all phases of road construction and to evaluate the energy that will be used by vehicles traveling on the road. Different routes being considered can then be compared in terms of energy use.

Commenting on the team’s decision to use Bentley MXROAD in its custom solution, Elizabeth Kennedy, executive engineer with Waterford County Council, said, “We considered Bentley MXROAD to be the most widely used road design software package internationally. Since the software developed through this project may have widespread use, it was decided that MXROAD would be the most appropriate software to use.”

The energy used during road construction is obtained by breaking down the works into their constituent items. The energy values are then calculated for each item in terms of off-site materials (the energy required to produce materials such as aggregate, concrete, and bitumen) and on-site placement (the energy required to excavate, transport, and place materials). These values are then used by JouleSAVE to calculate the total energy required for the construction of each road design being considered.

When interfaced with the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute’s VETO 2000 software, which estimates road traffic fuel consumption and exhaust emissions, JouleSAVE allows engineers to analyze how each route option impacts the fuel usage of vehicles traveling on the road over a design lifetime. Forecasted traffic volumes and anticipated vehicle types are then input into the program.

Major aspects of the road design that impact vehicles’ fuel usage – such as horizontal or vertical geometry – are analyzed so that fuel usage over the road’s lifetime can be calculated for each route option. This is achieved by importing the geometric design data via JouleSAVE into the VETO program.

Two types of attribute data are input to make the appropriate analysis: overall data and sectional data. The overall data will give details of the vehicle category, macro texture of the road, and the road conditions. The sectional data will give details of the speed, speed limit, traffic volumes, stop time, super-elevation, and road width for the various segments of the road.

“The software produced for this project enabled us to quickly, easily, and reliably calculate the energy used during construction and operation of each of our road designs, which allowed us to compare them as part of the route selection process,” said Kennedy. On average, the project determined that energy used by the vehicles on the roads over a 20-year period is 18 times greater than the energy used in the road construction.


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