Life Cycle Assessment of Sustainable Road Pavements: Carbon Footprinting and Multi-attribute Analysis

TR Number
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Virginia Tech

Sustainability is increasingly becoming a significant part of strategic asset management worldwide. Road agencies are providing guidelines to assess the relative sustainability of road projects. Unfortunately, environmental features of a road project are still considered as stand-alone evaluations, an added value. Very little has been done to integrate environmental impacts as a part of pavement management systems and other decision support tools to choose between different strategies. In this way, being awarded with a "green" certificate for a specific road project could result in the belief that recognition would correspond to the optimal strategy. Furthermore, a road project awarded with a "green" rating during the construction phase does not mean that the project results "green" if a life cycle approach is considered. Indeed, the most environmental friendly strategies may not be the ones with the highest performance. Using "greener" materials or performing recycle-related practices may lead to a lower performance over the life cycle and therefore produce an increase in maintenance needed, which could in turn result into more congestion due to work zones and higher total emissions. Therefore, construction and maintenance strategies should be analyzed according to three main parameters: cost, performance or effectiveness, and environmental impacts.

The cost analysis part takes into account outflows over the service life of the pavement according to the well-known Life Cycle Cost Analysis methodology. The cheapest maintenance technique over the analysis period was expounded and sensitivity analyses to involved factors were conducted. Performance assessment was developed according to experimental on site data gathered and analyzed over several years to develop deterioration pavement models. Effectiveness of maintenance treatments is further provided and compared to the volume of traffic. In addition, environmental impacts related to maintenance and rehabilitation strategies were analyzed. Emissions were computed over the life cycle of the pavement from the manufacture of raw materials for the initial construction, placement, and maintenance phase. Finally, an optimization procedure was developed for including environmental impacts into a Pavement Management System. A methodology to set a multi-attribute approach system, computing costs, performance, and eco-efficiency over the life cycle of the pavement, is therefore proposed.

pavement maintenance, multi-objective optimization, life cycle assessment, carbon footprinting, pavement management