LCA 2020, the much-anticipated life cycle assessment (LCA)* symposium for pavements and bridges, was held last week as a four-day virtual conference.

Sergio Aceves of Caltrans opened the symposium with welcoming remarks and a presentation on “Sustainability Efforts in Pavement.” He was followed by keynote speaker, Dr. Arpad Horvath of UC Berkeley. He spoke about why “We Need More Accurate and More Useful Environmental Assessment.”

Ezra Kahn, of the US Department of Agriculture and Tim Skone of the US Department of Energy, provided an “Introduction to the Federal LCA Commons,” an inside look at how the federal government is advancing consistency in LCA methods and results and improving access to publicly funded research

The concrete pavement industry was well represented by Eric Ferrebee of ACPA, Jim Mack of CEMEX (and 2018 ACPA Chair), Charles Stewart of the Southwest Concrete Pavement Association, an ACPA affiliate.

Jeremy Gregory, Executive Director of the CS Hub at MIT, and Richard Bohan, VP of Sustainability at PCA, were the two main presenters for the concrete industry in the plenary session. Rich delivered the “Cement Industry’s Perspectives,” discussing the industry’s efforts related to concrete and cement sustainability, including the use of portland limestone cement (PLC), along with the recyclability of concrete and the use of SCMs including fly ash and slag. He also covered optimized mixtures (performance-engineered mixtures).

Jeremy participated in a panel discussion that was moderated by Heather Dylla (FHWA). This panel was looking at the future of LCA, as well as environmental product declarations (EPDs) and product category rules (PCRs).

More than a dozen technical papers were presented as a parallel track and the symposium also included several short videos from people at various stages of their careers speaking about the importance and value of Life Cycle Assessment. A bonus session also covered LCA tools and resources, including: the FHWA’s LCA Pave; Caltrans’ eLCAP; and University of Illinois’ (Intercollegiate Transfer Process) Tools on Pavements and Preservation.


* LCA, according to the Government Services Administration seeks to quantify the environmental impacts that arise from material inputs and outputs, such as energy use or air emissions, over a product’s entire life cycle to assist consumers in making decisions that will benefit the environment. LCA is typically a “cradle-to-grave” approach, which begins with the gathering of raw materials from the earth to create the product and ends at the point when all materials are returned to the earth.