This week at the World of Concrete, the American Concrete Pavement Association (ACPA) announced the release of a white paper, “Concrete Pavement’s Role in a Sustainable, Resilient Future,” which synthesizes research on concrete pavement’s contributions to economic, environmental and social sustainability.
As part of the organization’s role educating decision-makers who are involved in the placement and rehabilitation of roadway, highway, and airfield pavements, the ACPA is providing the white paper to assist those decision-makers as they are challenged to meet ever-increasing levels of sustainability.
“‘Concrete Pavement’s Role in a Sustainable, Resilient Future’ provides an overview of sustainability and sustainability’s relationship to resilience. Because a system cannot be sustainable if it is not also resilient, pavements should be designed with a life cycle approach that contemplates pavement’s entire life span. Designing with life cycle in mind can help ensure pavements enhance all three categories of sustainability: economic, environmental, and social,” said Laura O’Neill Kaumo, President and CEO, ACPA. “Concrete is a material well-positioned to address the planet’s climate change considerations.”
The report summarizes concrete pavement’s role in sustainability, including:
- The long life span of concrete pavement, which provides the greatest economic value over the long term for taxpayers and end users. Concrete can last 30 years or more before requiring a maintenance cycle.
- Research supporting concrete pavement’s many use-phase environmental and societal benefits, including improved fuel efficiency, high albedo (which improves the earth’s energy balance and urban heat island effect, both of which lead to cooling impacts and CO2 reduction) and CO2 absorption.
- Examination of how the concrete pavement industry and others across the concrete value chain are working together to implement the PCA’s Roadmap to Carbon Neutrality, with a goal of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. (Examples include reducing cement’s carbon footprint using blended cements and reducing concrete’s carbon footprint using performance-engineered mixtures.)
- The importance of life-cycle thinking in addressing social sustainability, particularly concrete pavement’s long life (which not only provides a smooth, safe roadway for the traveling public but reduces the hazards associated with work zones throughout the life of the pavement); its ability to withstand, respond to, and recover rapidly after a disruptive event; and good performance with minimal traffic disruption due to maintenance.
Steve Friess, Chairman of the Board for ACPA said, “Installing long-life pavements is one very important way of improving sustainability. Another big contribution to sustainability, and one that I and my company have been personally involved in, is developing performance mixes to reduce cementitious content. As an industry, we’re seeing significant success with with such mixes.”
Because millions of miles of pavements across the globe are placed or rehabilitated every year, the role of concrete pavement in sustainability cannot be understated. With its release of “Concrete Pavement’s Role in a Sustainable, Resilient Future,” the ACPA provides valuable guidance for road owners and other decision-makers as they weigh the many considerations involved in delivering sustainable infrastructure.