Environmental Sustainability is often defined as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."
By any definition, asphalt is the sustainable material for constructing pavements. From the production of the paving material, to the placement of the pavement on the road, to rehabilitation, through recycling, asphalt pavements minimize impact on the environment. Low cost over the pavement's life cycle, low consumption of energy for production and construction, low emission of greenhouse gases, and conservation of natural resources help make asphalt the environmental pavement of choice.
Above all, what makes asphalt sustainable is the fact that only asphalt can be a perpetual pavement. Today's asphalt pavements can be designed literally to last in perpetuity. Total pavement reconstruction is rendered virtually obsolete with a perpetual pavement.
Click to learn why asphalt is the sustainable pavement.
The American Concrete Pavement Association has made several statements about sustainabilty of asphalt pavements that need to be addressed. Here are some of ACPA's statements and NAPA's factual responses.
Asphalt for Sustainability - Setting the Record Straight
Reclaimed Asphalt Pavement
Reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP) is the term given to removed and/or processed materials containing asphalt and aggregates. These materials are generated when asphalt pavements are removed for construction, resurfacing, or to obtain access to buried utilities. When properly crushed and screened, RAP consists of high- quality, well-graded aggregates coated by asphalt cement.
Warm-mix asphalt allows the producers of asphalt pavement material to lower the temperatures at which the material is mixed and placed on the road. Reductions of 50 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit have been documented. These significant reductions have the obvious benefits of cutting fuel consumption and decreasing the production of greenhouse gases.
Porous asphalt offers a powerful tool in the toolbox for storm-water management.
In the natural environment, rainfall sinks into soil, filters through it, and eventually finds its way to streams, ponds, lakes, and underground aquifers. The built environment, by way of contrast, seals the surface. Rainwater and snowmelt become runoff which may contribute to flooding.
Black and Green Sustainability Report
The sustainability report, the first ever of its kind for the asphalt industry, is entitled Black and Green: Sustainable Asphalt, Now and Tomorrow. It highlights the ways in which the asphalt industry’s everyday practices address climate change, improve air quality and water quality, provide green jobs, and reduce the carbon footprint of pavements.