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Incorporate Sustainability Factors in the Selection Process for Pavement Types

Project Information

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Project Abstract: 

Highway construction utilizes a large amount of material resources and there is a recognized need to implement sustainable, environmentally responsible solutions as we rebuild and reconstruct our aging infrastructure. While great strides have been made in the use of recycled materials and energy saving materials, there is a need to quantify the available solutions not only in terms of economic Life-Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA), but also environmental impacts from raw materials extraction/production to reuse/disposal. Nationally and internationally, significant progress has been made during the last decade in identifying and quantifying sustainability factors (Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA)) by many different sources, such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 14040:2006; U.S. Life-Cycle Inventory (LCI) Database from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (; and BASF (Badische Anilin- und Soda-Fabrik) Eco-Efficiency Analysis (  Several tools have been developed in this endeavor, such as the Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability (BEES) software (developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)), Pavement Life-Cycle Assessment Tool for Environmental and Economic Effects (PaLATE), GaBi software ( and SimaPro software ( Except for PaLATE, most of the tools are generic. There are also qualitative rating systems, such as Greenroads ( and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) ( However, these efforts have seen rare or limited consideration in the pavement type selection process. Some of the difficulties are the lack of exposure among State highway agency (SHA) pavement engineers in this area, lack of tools that incorporate LCCA and LCA, and challenges in objectively considering sustainability factors that are generally expressed in terms of energy efficiency, global warming potential, or carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalents. There is clearly a need to adopt and innovate methods and tools to objectively assess environmental effects in addition to economical costs in identifying sustainable, environmentally responsible solutions in the pavement type selection process that can easily be utilized by SHA pavement engineers. References:1. ISO 14040:2006 Environmental management. Life cycle assessment. Principles and framework


This activity will review and capitalize from the existing body of knowledge to adopt and innovate methods and tools to assess environmental effects in addition to economical cost in identifying sustainable, environmentally responsible solutions during the pavement type selection (PTS) process. This project will also incorporate them in RealCost Life-Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA) software so both the economical and environmental considerations can be evaluated simultaneously and together in the decision making process.

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Project Funding Amount (Contract Award Amount): 
Start Date: 
Friday, February 4, 2011
End Date: 
Saturday, May 3, 2014
Public Access Plan: 
FHWA AMRP Program: 

Contact Information

Infrastructure Analysis and Construction Team
Office of Infrastructure Research and Development
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