Peer-reviewed publication: Sensitivity Analysis of the Life Cycle Environmental Performance of Asphalt and Concrete Pavements

April 13, 2010

The goal of the present Life Cycle Assessment study is to evaluate the environmental impact over the lifetime of one square meter (the functional unit) of the two most common pavement categories: concrete and asphalt, in a robust manner that considers scenarios a variety of pavement engineering designs, varying traffic loads, and varying climatic conditions. The impact category of concern is global warming potential. The system boundary of concrete and asphalt include all cradle-to-grave life cycle phases: raw material extraction and processing; pavement construction; transportation of materials; pavement maintenance and rehabilitation; pavement use by vehicles and other use phase components; and end of life recycling and disposal. The study applies a sensitivity analysis approach to the LCA of pavements in order to determine the variability range of results in normal and extreme practice, the system parameters (such as design, climate, and traffic) that drive changes in the results, and opportunities for improving the performance in the life cycle for given engineering and policy scenarios. MORE