Life Cycle Assessment for Road Construction and Use

Paper by MILACHOWSKI STENGEL GEHLEN from ISCR 11th 2010 Seville Spain

At present the choice of materials and techniques in road construction is dictated by structural requirements and economical aspects. Ecological factors have gained in importance due to environmental considerations in politics and society. To evaluate the environmental impact of motorways, a life cycle assessment (LCA) according to ISO 14040 was carried out for four different pavement types (two concrete pavements and two asphalt pavements). By investigating different case scenarios for construction, use and maintenance over a service period of 30 years, the reduction potential of environmental impact was quantified. The LCA for concrete motorways showed that the potential environmental impact clearly depends on the choice of cement type. The analysis for asphalt motorways showed that the potential environmental impact can be reduced by improving asphalt production. Moreover, the potential environmental impact can be decreased by reducing transport services. The analysis for the maintenance of the pavement types showed that investment in more durable pavement is worthwhile. A far greater reduction in air pollution can be achieved by improving pavement properties (e.g. texture, stiffness and flatness) which would significantly reduce the fuel consumption of vehicles. Therefore, the development of fuel-saving pavement is more important than pavement with lower potential environmental impact from construction and maintenance.

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