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Estimating greenhouse gas emissions of highway construction and rehabilitation to support pavement life cycle assessment
Date of Award
Master of Science in Civil Engineering (MS)
College, School or Department Name
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Highway infrastructure plays a significant role in society. The building and upkeep of America’s highways provide society the necessary means of transportation for goods and services needed to develop as a nation. However, as a result of economic and social development, vast amounts of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) are emitted into the atmosphere contributing to global climate change. In recognizing this, future policies may mandate the monitoring of GHG emissions from public agencies and private industries in order to reduce the effects of global climate change. To effectively reduce these emissions, there must be methods that agencies can use to quantify the GHG emissions associated with constructing and maintaining the nation’s highway infrastructure. Current methods for assessing the impacts of highway infrastructure include methodologies that look at the economic impacts (costs) of constructing and maintaining highway infrastructure over its life cycle. This is known as Life Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA). With the recognition of global climate change, transportation agencies and contractors are also investigating the environmental impacts that are associated with highway infrastructure construction and rehabilitation. A common tool in doing so is the use of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). Traditionally, LCA is used to assess the environmental impacts of products or processes. LCA is an emerging concept in highway infrastructure assessment and is now being implemented and applied to transportation systems. This research focuses on life cycle GHG emissions associated with the construction and rehabilitation of highway infrastructure using a LCA approach. Life cycle phases of the highway section include; the material acquisition and extraction, construction and rehabilitation, and service phases. Departing from traditional approaches that tend to use LCA as a way to compare alternative pavement materials or designs based on estimated inventories, this research proposes a shift to a context sensitive process-based approach that uses actual observed construction and performance data to calculate greenhouse gas emissions associated with highway construction and rehabilitation. The goal is to support strategies that reduce long-term environmental impacts. Ultimately, this thesis outlines techniques that can be used to assess GHG emissions associated with construction and rehabilitation operations to support the overall pavement LCA.
Cass, Darrell J., "Estimating greenhouse gas emissions of highway construction and rehabilitation to support pavement life cycle assessment", Master's Thesis, Michigan Technological University, 2011.