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Pavement Life-Cycle Assessment Framework


Research Report

UC Pavement Research Center, Sustainable Transportation Energy Pathways (STEPS)

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Suggested Citation:
Harvey, John T., Joep Meijer, Hasan Ozer, Imad L. Al-Qadi, Arash Saboori, Alissa Kendall (2016) Pavement Life-Cycle Assessment Framework. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Research Report UCD-ITS-RR-16-37

Awareness of the importance of environmental protection, and the possible impacts associated with the production, use, and retirement of products, has generated considerable interest in the use of assessment methods to better understand and address those impacts. Life-cycle assessment (LCA) is one of the techniques developed for this purpose. LCA is a structured evaluation methodology that quantifies environmental impacts over the full life cycle of a product or system, including impacts that occur throughout the supply chain. LCA provides a comprehensive approach for evaluating the total environmental burden of a product by examining all the inputs and outputs over the life cycle, from raw material production to the end-of-life (EOL). For pavements, this cycle includes the material production, design, construction, use, maintenance and rehabilitation (M&R), and EOL stages.

LCA has a commonly accepted standard method (published by the International Organization for Standardization [ISO]), however, specifics within this method vary greatly from one application to another. Additionally, there are no widely accepted standards that focus on pavement-LCA. This pavement LCA framework document is an important first step in the implementation and adoption of LCA principles in the pavement community within the U.S. A framework for performing an LCA specific to pavement systems along with guidance on the overall approach, methodology, system boundaries, and current knowledge gaps are presented in this document.

Keywords:life-cycle assessment, sustainability, sustainable pavements, environment, society, economics, asphalt, concrete, materials, design, construction, use phase, maintenance, rehabilitation, recycling