In addition to its long-term durability and reduced maintenance, concrete offers several other sustainable benefits over its lifecycle. Here are some important advantages of putting concrete roads to work:
- Concrete requires significantly less embodied energy to build than asphalt pavements.
- Its light-coloured and high albedo surface helps to reduce lighting needs at night, as well as reduce the heat island effect in urban centres. Its cooler temperature prolongs tire life, reduces GHG emissions, and results in less flash freezing and “black ice” in the winter.
- As a rigid surface, concrete provides improved fuel efficiency over flexible pavements. This effect is amplified for commercial trucks when compared to passenger vehicles.
- Concrete naturally absorbs GHGs from the atmosphere. Studies show that up to 20% of cement emissions are re-absorbed into a concrete product.
- Concrete is 100% recyclable and re-usable. A common use for recycled concrete is as an aggregate product for road base.
Useful websites and resources
- CP Tech Center Concrete Recycling Site
- MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub: Pavements and Albedo
- MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub: Fuel Savings and Pavement-Vehicle Interaction