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Construction life cycle assessment pioneer retools Pavement software

Sources: Athena Sustainable Materials Institute, Ottawa; CP staff

The developer of a life cycle assessment (LCA) tool informing ready mixed and manufactured-concrete interests’ product category rules (PCR) and environmental product declarations (EPD) has released Pavement LCA Version 2.1, succeeding the Impact Estimator for Highways software. Athena Institute envisioned the charter program for major freeway and arterial roadway assessment, but notes the tool can now gauge the environmental footprint of any roadway cross-section along its length and over its service life.

Pavement LCA contains a host of improvements to its predecessor program:

  • Hello USA! Software developed in Canada now supports three U.S. regional targets—California, Illinois and a country average location—and spotlights multiple U.S.-centric sample roadway projects;
  • A variety of new concrete mix designs have been added, and users can assess their own custom mixes with the help of an Athena YouTube channel tutorial;
  • While continuing to support the pavement vehicle interaction module based on the latest research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology-hosted Concrete Sustainability Hub (CSHub), the software now separately reports roughness and deflection effects;
  • A new spreadsheet resource file eases estimating of steel reinforcement input requirements;
  • Rigid pavement slab length setting between 3 and 100 feet; and,
  • Faster download and installation.

Version 2.1 likewise includes new life cycle inventory (LCI) references: ready mixed concrete plant process per the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association 2014 industry average LCA and EPD; updated portland cement LCI data; North American Slag Cement LCI profile reflecting industry average LCA and EPD that Athena conducted for the Slag Cement Association (SCA); and, addition of asphalt patching as new activity type.

On the heels of the expanded program capability and regional coverage, "We are hoping [Pavement LCA] will become the tool of choice for North American roadway design assessment,” notes Athena Research Principal Jamie Meil. Supporting program development and release are NRMCA, CSHub, SCA, Cement Association of Canada, Portland Cement Association, and Athena Institute members. Pavement LCA is available as a free download. — www.athenasmi.org