Tag Archives: Sustainability

Fact Sheet Describes Concrete Pavements’ Reduced Environmental Impact

The reduced environmental impact of concrete pavements is the topic of the latest Pavement Note from the Australian Society for Concrete Pavements.

The two-page fact sheet, “Sustainable Concrete Pavements,” presents sustainability attributes, key research findings, and key outcomes. Among the key findings reported are that “concrete pavements are 12% and 30% lower in environmental impact at 40 and 70 years.”  The fact sheet provides insights into CO2 emissions, noting that “(a)pproximately 43% of emissions released in the manufacture of cement since 1930 has subsequently been absorbed by the concrete it produced in that period.”

Useful information about energy savings, resilience, fuel savings, low noise, and recycling are also among the many fast facts included in this resource. This useful information should benefit promoters and others with an interest in concrete pavements. Click here to download a PDF.

FHWA Roundtable Discussion Draws Attention to Sustainability Needs

The FHWA Sustainable Pavements Technical Working Group (SPTWG) met on June 3 and the virtual roundtable discussion presented what organizers called a guided exploration of what the FHWA’s Sustainable Pavements Program has accomplished over the last 10 years.

The web conference also explored how the current situation may be affecting implementation efforts, and what we can do in the future to continue advancing the program’s goals. Much of the discussion focused on progress with the development and use of Environmental Product Declarations* and an update on the FHWA life cycle assessment (LCA) tool.

“The SPWG represents a broad cross-section of the pavement community – agency, industry, academia, consultants, etc.,” says Leif Wathne, who represented ACPA and the concrete pavement industry.  “The group allows for honest and spirited exchanges and has made progress increasing the visibility of sustainable practices and in raising awareness about life cycle assessment, including the very important use-phase.”

“Even, so we are still not focusing appropriately on some primary drivers,” he says, noting that the current economic realities, increased attention among lawmakers, and other factors will continue to influence decision-making.

“The current economic realities mirror those of the Great Recession of 2007.  Sustainability efforts lost some steam because economic realities caused first cost to dominate,” he says, adding, “in addition, there are political obstacles that sometimes hamper progress on sustainability efforts. In the near term, it may make sense to shift toward a focus on the economic aspects of sustainability – as economic messages still very much resonate, and economically sustainable practices are typically also environmentally sustainable.  Also, we anticipate a gradual shift toward resilience. As resilience is tied very closely to economic sustainability and responsible resource use (i.e., environmental sustainability).”

“Although we are encouraged by FHWA’s continued focus on life cycle thinking, our industry continues to be somewhat concerned about FHWA launching an LCA tool that omits use-phase impacts, which in some cases can be quite dominant, particularly as there are already other pavement LCA tools available that do factor in use-phase impacts,” he says. Leif cautioned that the FHWA must make it “abundantly clear to the user that the use-phase is not included in its LCA tool, and must guide the user to understand that the LCA tool can be used only for a very narrow set of circumstances.”

The LCA 2020 conference originally scheduled for last week has been postponed until January 13-15, 2021, in Davis, CA.

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* Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) provides quantifiable environmental data to compare products that fulfill the same function. In order to create comparable EPDs, they must follow the rules and guidelines called for in the associated Product category rules (PCRs), which are a set of specific rules, requirements, and guidelines, for developing environmental declarations for one or more products that can fulfill equivalent functions.

Conference Draws Attention to Life Cycle Assessment

The “International Symposium on Pavement, Roadway, and Bridge Life Cycle Assessment 2020” will be held in Sacramento, CA, on June 3-6.

The conference focuses on the important and timely topic of life cycle assessment–the ‘cradle-to-grave’ determination of environmental impacts of a product’s life–and its role in pavement, roadway and bridge construction. Hosted by the University of California (Davis/Berkeley) and the National Center for Sustainable Transportation at UC/Davis, the symposium will feature keynote speakers, technical paper presentations, panel discussions and poster sessions.

Keynote speakers for the three-day event include: 

  • (Thursday) Dr. Arpad Horvath of UC Berkeley, Tom Harman of the FHWA, and Sergio Aceves of Caltrans;
  • (Friday) Dr. Alissa Kendall of UC Davis, and Lew Fulton, Sustainable Transportation Energy Pathways, ITS-Davis; and 
  • (Saturday) Ezra Khan, US EPA.

The formal program is still being developed, but scheduled topics thus far include cement (and asphalt) industry perspectives; product category rules (PCRs) and environmental product declarations (EPDs)*; and other topics important to sustainability best practices. 

Click here to for additional information and to register for the event. The Symposium is supported by several universities and university-seated transportation centers; TRB; the FHWA; and associations, including ACPA, IGGA (an ACPA technology partner), ISCP; NRMCA; Southwest Concrete Pavement Association (an ACPA promotion partner); and California/Nevada Cement Association (an ACPA Association Member).

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* ASTM describes product category rules (PCRs) as specific rules, requirements, and guidelines, for developing environmental declarations for one or more products that can fulfill equivalent functions. PCRs determine what information should be gathered and how that information should be evaluated for an environmental declaration. Environmental product declarations (EPDs) provides quantifiable environmental data to compare products that fulfill the same function. In order to create comparable EPDs, they must follow the rules and guidelines called for in the associated PCR.

FHWA Group Focuses on Sustainability Resources

The 18th meeting of the Sustainable Pavements Technical Working Group (SPTWG) gave stakeholders the opportunity stakeholders to provide technical input on sustainability and environmental aspects of pavements and pavement materials. The meeting, which began with opening remarks by Heather Dyllla, FHWA Sustainability Program Manager, also created a forum to share information and discuss resources.

Held in Detroit last week, the two-day meeting covered a wide variety of topics, including streets and urban sustainability, innovations by the Michigan DOT, and product category rules (PCRs) and environmental product declarations (EPDs). The meeting also addressed life cycle analysis data issues and included a demonstration of the FHWA’s LCA tool.

Participants also heard a presentation on pavement vehicle interaction (PVI) by Karim Chatti, Michigan State University; Imad Al-Qadi, University of Illinois; and Jeremy Gregory, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (and CS Hub). A PVI panel discussion followed and addressed timely questions about PVI, including gaps in modeling, as well as implementation steps for using PVI models in the short term. Technical updates presented by the FHWA included an update on the FHWA PVI study and sustainable pavement studies. 

Facilitating and participating in the discussions were Kurt Smith and Prashant Ram of ApTech, an ACPA member. Leif Wathne participated in the meeting, representing ACPA and the concrete pavement industry’s perspectives. 

Join the Discussion on Concrete Roundabouts

The FHWA has declared this week as National Roundabouts Week.  To promote the safety, environmental and performance benefits of concrete roundabouts, ACPA National and affiliated Chapters are posting photos, videos, and infographics all week (Sept. 16 through 20). 

As part of our ongoing development of marketing and promotional strategies and tactics, ACPA developed a series of infographics earlier this summer to address some of the benefits of concrete pavement roundabouts. 

We encourage all members, affiliates, and technology partners to join us and others in discussing roundabouts on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media and communications channels.  Be sure to tag your posts with #RoundaboutsWeek.

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