Believe it or not, asphalt is the most environmentally sustainable, renewable, and recyclable material in the construction and paving industry. In North America alone, approximately 100 million tons of asphalt paving material is reclaimed and about 95 million of that is recycled or reused for new road installation or repair projects. Considering the sheer volume of asphalt materials that are reclaimed annually, there’s been a noticeable rise in environmental initiatives throughout the industry and eco-friendly pavement services being offered by contractors.
Benefits of Environmentally-Friendly Asphalt Paving Practices
Environmentally-friendly asphalt paving practices have become the norm across all aspects of the industry in recent years. As a growing number of contractors and companies place a greater importance on minimizing their carbon footprints, there have been vast improvements in asphalt paving practices and aggregates. Of course, there’s always room for greater advancements and improvements in industry-wide best practices, but the evidence shows that the following benefits are on the rise.
Asphalt Road Materials Are Recyclable
You probably don’t think about this too often while you’re on the road, but the chances are that the asphalt you’re driving on has been recycled multiple times. As mentioned, the vast majority of asphalt pavement is derived from reclaimed and recycled materials. Oftentimes, it’s a mixture of rubber from discarded vehicle tires, old roofing shingles, and previously used asphalt. In fact, asphalt is considered to be the number one recycled material in North America because of how often it’s reclaimed for new road installations and repairs.
Asphalt Helps Conserve Energy
Studies have shown that asphalt pavements use about 20% less energy compared to other paving materials such as concrete during the production and construction periods. The amount of energy saved during the production process is only overshadowed by the amount that’s saved during the application and usage of the asphalt itself.
Asphalt roadways, driveways, and parking lots contribute to the reduction of energy usage by motorists on a daily basis. Additionally, asphalt reduces the amount of congestion on major roadways which in turn also helps conserve energy. This is because it requires fewer repairs and replacements than its paving counterparts. Asphalt repairs are quick, easy, and can often be completed overnight outside of peak traffic hours.
Easy Maintenance and Cost-Efficiency
In the asphalt paving industry, easy maintenance and cost-efficiency go hand in hand. Asphalt maintenance is extremely low maintenance, which means it not only saves local municipalities and taxpayers a great deal of money due to fewer repairs, but it also has an incredibly long lifespan. As long as the roadways are properly cared for and proper repairs are administered as needed, then there’s no reason why even roads with the most volume can’t last for decades.
Asphalt Is the Most Sustainable Paving Material
Compared to concrete, gravel, and composite pavements, asphalt is certainly the most sustainable paving material. As long as the pavement is properly designed, installed, and maintained over time, there’s no reason for it to sustain any major damages or need reconstruction. Oftentimes, only the top layer of the asphalt is removed and refilled or replaced. Minor cracks may develop from time to time, especially if the road or parking lot gets a lot of usage, but these are easy fixes that require a hot or cold patch. Sealcoating your asphalt once every 2-3 years can help protect it from external damages and substantially extend its lifespan.
Asphalt Improves Air Quality and Cools Temperatures in Urban Areas
Since the 1970s, asphalt plants have managed to substantially reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by about 97%. According to the EPA, they’ve also managed to successfully maintain and regulate these reduced greenhouse gas emissions over the years. While these efforts have been in effect, asphalt plants have also been able to increase production efficiency and quality by about 250%.
Recent advancements in the production of asphalt have lead to the development of lighter and more porous aggregates that reduce light and heat reflection in some of the most heavily populated urban areas. This new development has helped to decrease temperatures and improve overall air quality in major cities, which tend to have the biggest environmental hotspots.
Effective Eco-Friendly Asphalt Repaving Practices
Developing Porous Asphalt Aggregates
One of the biggest problems asphalt contractors and property managers have to deal with is how to redirect additional runoff water after a major rainfall or storm. Runoff water often contains a cesspool of toxic materials that have been collected over time. What’s worse, is when the water doesn’t have anywhere to go (if your catch basin is broken or inadequate), it tends to just pool in parts of your asphalt pavement. Over time, pooling water presents a great detriment to asphalt because it can erode the surface and compromise the entire structural integrity of the composition. Porous asphalt prevents this from happening by allowing water deposits to run through narrow channels that are built into the structure.
Installing Perpetual Pavement
As the saying goes, nothing lasts forever. But perpetual pavement comes pretty close! Perpetual pavement involves a multi-layer durable paving installation process. Contractors start by laying down a sturdy, yet flexible foundation and then adding layer upon layer of asphalt to secure the structure into place. This asphalt is meant to be malleable enough to withstand the strain and movement of heavy traffic without cracking under the pressure so that it can last a long time.
Warm and Cold Asphalt Mix
Warm and cold asphalt mixes are a great alternative to hot aggregates because they actively reduce the release of greenhouse gases and other pollutants during the production process. Cooler mixes also allow for longer paving seasons in particularly cold climates, which makes them ideal for most regions throughout and the northern United States.
Sure-Seal’s Eco-Friendly Asphalt Pavement Services
Aside from offering excellent cost-saving services to our clients, one of our top priorities is to help them reduce their carbon footprint while also improving pavement functionality and efficiency. We’re committed to helping Ontario go green through our eco-friendly practices. To learn more, contact Sure-Seal Pavement Maintenance Inc. today!