Modeling Climate Change Impacts of Pavement Production and Construction

The 21st century is the century of urbanization. Along with rapid urbanization, the century is observing the biggest increase in the world's population in human history. As of 2006, the world human population reached 6.5 billion. Rapid global urbanization and explosive overall population increases generate high demand for new road networks. Paved surfaces can comprise up to 45% of land cover in urban regions of the United States and are designed with energy intensive products comprised of either Portland cement or petroleum-based asphalt (bitumen). Both of these products contribute to green house gas emissions and climate change at both the urban and global scales. This paper presents a process for road designers and transportation officials to model the impact of road material production and road construction of different pavement types on climate change (global warming) potentials. The process presented employs variables that can be modified by the designer to customize for their specific road configuration and materials type. Overall, the methodology allows engineers and planners to examine the direct CO2 emissions related to pavement production and construction. By adjusting the model parameters, users can optimize a pavement design based on local resources, climatic conditions, traffic volumes, and energy needs.