Today’s technology could cut road construction emissions in half

Construction without the emissions? It could happen.


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It’s easy to forget that almost every major process in our modern world requires energy, and that includes road construction. Someone has to create the asphalt and concrete, something has to move the materials and it requires energy.

A new study from Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Gothenburg in Sweden highlighted a few areas where we could actually cut emissions from road construction in half. The research focused on a stretch of road in Sweden covering five miles, and every part of the process made its way into a climate-impact calculate. Whether it was the materials or any associated activity, they were included in a total-climate impact.

Ida Karlsson, a PhD student at Chalmers, said research then looked at what alternatives are available today, and found those inputs would reduce emissions by 20% compared to the Swedish Transportation Agency’s reference values. But, incorporating more of today’s technology could reduce emissions by a total of 50%.

Karlsson highlighted electric vehicles to transport things between a construction site, recycling and reusing material excavated from a worksite and replacing cement clinker as a binder in concrete. These are things possible today, though the study recognizes each comes with rather large investments.

Looking forward to the future, these areas could help totally eliminate emissions associated with road construction by 2045. When it comes to achieving the UN’s recommendation to cut emissions by 7.6% annually to keep the earth’s temperature from rising more than 35 degrees Fahrenheit, anything could help.


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