International Seminar "Environmental Sustainability of Road Transport: Air Pollution, Noise and Relationship with Energy Transition and Climate Change"

20-22 October 2021, Cluj-Napoca (Romania) and online

This International Seminar was organised jointly by the PIARC Technical Committee 3.4 "Environmental Sustainability in Road Infrastructure and Transport", the Romanian Roads and Bridges Professional Association (Transylvania branch) and the Department of Railways, Roads and Bridges of the Cluj-Napoca Technical University.

Preparatory documents for the Seminar

According to the World Health Organisation, pollution and noise are among the most important environmental factors which can lead to health issues. It is estimated that at least 20 % of Europe’s population is exposed on the long term to excessive noise levels, with health damaging potential. Also, a large percentage of the world’s population is exposed to pollution, particularly in the context of climate change.

In the context of the United Nations Conference regarding climate change and energy transition, held in November 2021, the seminar was a valuable event providing all participants an insight on specific issues and worldwide practices.

Summary and conclusions of the Seminar

The seminar was scheduled to take place between 20 and 22 October 2021, in hybrid format: with physical presence at the Grand Hotel Italia in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, as well as online. However, because of the worsening Covid-19 pandemic situation in Romania at the time of the seminar, it was decided that only the local organising team, as well as Mr. Eric Dimnet of France (leader of TC 3.4) would be physically present at the venue. 

The seminar started on 20 October 2021 with welcome messages from PIARC’s General Secretariat, TC 3.4 and the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca, followed by two opening lectures. The five seminar sessions that followed afterwards were moderated by TC 3.4 members. 

The first session included presentations on air quality assessment, while the second session was dedicated to low-noise pavements.

The second day kicked off with two opening lectures, followed by session no. 3 dedicated to acoustic mapping and pavement optimisation. Sessions no. 4 and 5 dealt with improving air quality and environmental sustainability, respectively, and they were followed by concluding remarks from TC 3.4 and the local organisers.

The final programme is attached to this report.

All presentations were available live on a dedicated online platform created by the local organisers. Since the official languages were Romanian and English, live paralel translation was available. 

After the event, all registered attendees received links they could use to access the recorded sessions. Also, all participants were kindly asked to fill in the feedback form recommended by PIARC’s Blue Guide.

Technical conclusions

The seminar started with two presentations on resilience, climate action and energy transition, with an application to natural hazards protection systems. The first session included a Romanian civil involvement functional network assessing air quality, as well as a similar index assessment based on crowdsourcing data. Specific works on pollutants and road traffic were also discussed.

The session on low noise pavements included three works on asphalt and concrete surfaces, as well as a case study, debating physico-mechanical material characteristics and long-term stability based on specific measurements. 

Furthermore, sustainable and environmentally friendly solutions for road infrastructure and water drainage were discussed. Studies on acoustic modelling, pavement optimisation, layer thickness influence and noise evaluation showed several approaches from around the world. Efforts to optimise road design speed and using selected materials in relationship with transportation and environment were also debated.

The seminar concluded with a session which included information from four continents on environmental sustainability assessment, drivers’ behaviour, intermodal transportation and materials.

Statistics

There were 276 registered participants to the event. Most of them attended online, the physically present attendees consisting of the local organising committee and a few members of the event technical committee.

Half the speakers were Romanian, while the other half consisted of attendees from all continents, therefore it was a worldwide event.

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