Evaluation of the ecoefficiency: concrete pavement X asphalt pavement

Votorantim Cimentos, in partnership with the Espaço ECO Foundation, evaluated and compared the eco-efficiency of the construction and maintenance of roads of rigid pavement (concrete) against flexible pavement (asphalt) for a period of 20 years, to analyze the economic and environmental benefits of each system in road construction and maintenance.

The methodology used was a life cycle analysis, an ISO 14040 standard tool. It evaluates the environmental performance of products throughout their life cycle, including the extraction of natural resources, all the links in their production chain, its use, and through final disposal. It can be described as the result of all anthropogenic interactions with the environment, associated with completing a specific function.

Cement production data were obtained from our Rio Branco do Sul plant (PR); road construction and maintenance data were provided by the Brazilian Association of Portland Cement (ABCP), which uses the DER / SP and SICROII as references; life cycle data came from the databases (BEST, Ecoinvent) of the Espaço Eco Foundation.

Concrete and asphalt roads were compared in the following categories of environmental impact: greenhouse effect, photochemical ozone formation, deformation of the ozone layer, acid rain, marine eutrophication, freshwater eutrophication, human toxicity, water consumption, resource consumption and land use.

This analysis yielded impressive results: rigid pavement (concrete) proved to be more eco-efficient than flexible pavement (asphalt) for high-volume traffic roads. In 20 years, the construction and maintenance costs were 54% lower with the use of concrete, and concrete paving was favorable in 6 of the 10 environmental categories analyzed. The study concluded that within the defined scope, assumptions and considerations, concrete roads are more eco-efficient when compared to asphalt roads.

"The implementation of this eco-efficiency model allows the quantification and measurement of our progress and the optimization of our ecological footprint year after year throughout the production life cycle of our products," said Patricia Monteiro Montenegro, Global Manager of Environmental Affairs at Votorantim Cimentos.

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