Sustainability and environmental consciousness are overarching concerns with much of NTC's research. NTC's environmental research involves study of air, water and soil issues in roadway construction and vehicle operations. Researchers work with vehicle operators, design engineers, and planners to minimize the impact of roadway construction and maintenance to the environment. NTC has worked on several projects with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), including retrofitting freight trucks with auxiliary power units to reduce idling time and resulting diesel emissions. These projects extensively involved Nebraska-based trucking firms, such as Werner Enterprises and Crete Carriers, for the added benefit of helping local trucking companies save on fuel costs while reducing diesel pollution. In addition, NTC works closely with engineers at the Nebraska Department of Roads to understand and address the current environmental concerns in different areas throughout the state.
Researchers are also working on measures to develop "energy plus" roadways with features that can help generate, rather than simply use, energy. Through a partnership with the city of Lincoln, researchers have innovatively used existing traffic infrastructure to mount a hybrid solar panel and wind energy generator to power traffic signals and save taxpayers' dollars. In this unique system, the excess power can even be supplied back to the main grid. For more information on the benefits of this system and related projects, please visit Energy Plus Roadways