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Sustainability and the case for Pavement Preservation

(adapted from ASI research) All of us in the pavement industry are ultimately responsible for how to best sustain our pavements. FACT

  • There is an enormous amount of pavement in the world, and the quantity is growing every year;

  • Economically & environmentally, it is infinitely cheaper & better for the planet to maintain pavement than to replace it;

  • Some methods of pavement preservation are much “greener” and therefore more sustainable than others;

  • To move forward sustainably on local and global levels, asphalt pavement simply must be preserved wisely.

World Pavement Numbers There are nearly 3-million miles of paved roads in the U.S. alone - enough to circle the earth 120x at the equator. Total U.S. farmland is approximately 80,000 square miles, while pavement (including parking lots and airfields) is approximately 61,000 square miles. China and India are close behind and growing quickly; globally, we will soon exceed 12-million miles of paved roads. Each additional car requires an average of .18 paved acres (road & parking), meaning that 5 cars require an additional football field of pavement. The reality is that pavements pose a sustainability challenge. Their construction and maintenance consumes large quantities of non-renewable materials, while also creating significant energy and environmental impacts. In the U.S. alone, over 350 million tons of raw materials go into the construction, rehabilitation, and maintenance of pavements annually. Maintenance Considerations “Environmentally friendly” can often mean “more expensive,” but that is not the case with pavement preservation options. Economically, over a pavement’s 20-30 year lifespan, it is 10x cheaper to maintain existing asphalt than to replace it. And environmentally, enormous resources are saved: studies have shown that if all pavements were properly maintained rather than repaved, global CO2 emissions could be reduced by over 1 billion metric tons per year, which equals an annual 3% reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions. Naturally, some pavement preservation products are “greener” and therefore more sustainable than others. Water-based emulsions are widely recognized as a better environmental choice than fuel-based cutbacks. GSB-88® sealer/binder/rejuvenator emulsion represents a very economical, versatile, and environmentally friendly option – plus it is the only industry product to receive an Environmental Product Declaration as well as Green Circle Certification. Even larger sustainability differences can be found in various pavement preservation methods, shown in the chart below. Annualized Energy Consumption & Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions per Type of Treatment:

Sustainability is an economic and environmental priority in today’s world, and proper asphalt preservation represents a significant part of it. Asphalt pavement comprises nearly 2% of the earth’s surface, and preserving it wisely can save billions of dollars every year while also reducing annual global greenhouse emissions up to 3%. Affordable and resource-friendly solutions are readily available; utilizing these products and processes properly will help achieve the decoupling of economic growth and environmental decline, and thereby move the planet forward more sustainably. View the full article and research references here.

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