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The New Circular Economy Action Plan, published by the EU Commission at the beginning of 2020, includes measures to encourage businesses to offer, and to allow consumers to choose, reusable, durable and repairable products. In addition, the European Green Deal, also published by the EU Commission towards the end of 2019, states that in order to enable buyers to make more sustainable decisions and reduces the risk of ‘green washing’, reliable, comparable and verifiable information plays an important part.
In road pavement engineering, sustainability assessment and related tools, such as the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), have been hot topics over the last decade. Hence, different European countries and Road Authorities, have started to put in place systems, which allow the transparent, effective and efficient communication of environmental information of products, from stakeholder to stakeholder, along the whole manufacturing chain.
This is nowadays started to be done through the so-called Environmental Product Declarations (EPD), which must be elaborated by following a wide range of different Product Category Rules (PCR) depending on the country. At European level, in 2017 the European Asphalt Pavement Association (EAPA) published a Guidance Document with the specific PCR for the EPD of asphalt mixtures, which later was transformed into the draft Standard prEN17392-1. This document, despite being in compliance with the core rules for construction products stablished by the Standard EN 15804+A2:2019, failed to be approved at CEN Enquiry stage and the solution remains unclear.
In view of the great confusion that all these changes are causing among asphalt manufacturers and other stakeholders of road construction and maintenance, EAPA and the Project PavementLCM (Life Cycle Management of Green Asphalt Mixtures and Road Pavement), funded by the CEDR Transnational Road Research Programme within the call 2017 “New Materials” (http://pavementlcm.eu), decided to join efforts and organise this 2-days Webinar, on 16 and 17 December 2020, which attracted Road Authorities, Industrials and Researchers/Academics to discuss and define future steps on Sustainability Assessment of Asphalt Pavements.
Summary of the Event
The Webinar was moderated by EAPA Technical Director Breixo Gómez and Davide LoPresti, Coordinator of the Project PavementLCM.
For the opening, Mr Steve Phillips, Secretary General of the Conference of European Directors of Roads and Mr. François Chaignon, President of EAPA, gave respective speeches in which, among other things, highlighted the great advances that Asphalt Sector is producing on Sustainability and need of collaboration between all the stakeholders to tackle the current and future challenges.
The first technical presentation was given by Lucía Monforte, Head of the Environmental and CSR Department of FCC Construcción. Lucía presented the work undertaken at international and European level in the development of Standards for assessing the sustainability of civil engineering works and explained the main contents of prEN 17472.
Then, Davide LoPresti presented the Pavement LCM Framework for asphalt mixtures and Road Pavements.
After a short coffee break, Rob Hofman, who works for Rijkswaterstaat, the Public Administration in The Netherlands, and is a very active member of the Conference of European Directors of Roads (CEDR), gave a presentation on the implementation of Sustainbility Assessment and, in particular, on the use of LCA for contractors and for asset management.
In the next presentation, Elisabeth Keijzer, sustainability consultant who works in the Dutch research institute TNO, spoke about the practical side of sustainability for National Road Administrations and gave 12 recommendations for NRAs on do’s and don’ts when implementing sustainability assessment.
At the end of the first day, a hands-on practice was organised and participants could login into the EPD tool “LCA.no” to elaborate their own EPD. For this, Geir Lange gave an introduction to the Environmental Product Declaration system in Norway and then, Ole Iversen, guided the participants through the practical exercise.
Geir has worked since 2010 in Veidekke, the largest Asphalt Contractor in Norway and has been involved in the development of the PCR and the LCA tool currently used in Norway. Ono the other hand, Ole is the CTO of LCA.no, has worked with online tools for EPD and LCA for 5 years and specifically with asphalt EPDs since 2016, when they started the project with EBA and Veidekke.
Breixo Gomez opened the second day of the Webinar by presenting the efforts that nowadays are being made to develop European Product Category Rules (PCR) for the elaboration of Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) of asphalt mixtures, which not only comply with the strong European policy but also meet the needs of the stakeholders involved in the construction of asphalt pavements.
After this, Ana Jiménez del Barco, MSC Research Fellow at the Construction Engineering Laboratory of the University of Granada (Spain), presented the work being carried out as part of the RILEM TC 279 Valorisation of Wastes and Secondary Materials for Roads, within TG5 Life Cycle Assessment. This international collaborative effort is focused on obtaining (1) LCA benchmarks for conventional asphalt mixtures and (2) environmental recommendations for the use of asphalt mixtures containing wastes and secondary materials, focused on the comparison with the benchmarks.
The next Speaker was Professor Tony Parry, who works in the Nottingham Transportation Engineering Centre at the University of Nottingham (UK). He presented the approach taken to include uncertainty in the interpretation of lifecycle assessment results in the CEDR Pavement LCM project.
Björn Kalman, Research director at Pavement Technology, Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute, presented a Methodology for Durability Assessment.
After the coffee break, Heather Dylla and Milena Rangelov presented updates on the USA Sustainable Pavement Program activities. This presentation provided an overview of LCA fit into infrastructure planning and project delivery. Additionally, in the light of Buy Clean acts in the USA, this presentation reflected on the current status of EPDs, harmonization, and future developments. Lastly, this presentation provided an overview of the creation of a new project-level tool, LCAPave. The tool uses EPDs and public background datasets in LCA analysis and enables stakeholders to inform pavement design and decision-making using environmental impacts.
At the end of the technical presentations, Joep Meijer and John Harvey organized another workshop, in which they showed the FHWA LCA Framework and LCA tool. Joep is the Founder and President of The Right Environment Ltd. Boulder, Colorado. Among many other things, he is one of the leading authors of the national standard for environmental product declarations (EPDs) in the Netherlands and is involved in similar efforts in Europe and North-America through his seat in the ASTM committee for Sustainable Construction and the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Sustainable Pavements Technical Working Group. On the other hand, John is Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Davis, Director of the UC Pavement Research Center, and Director of the City and County Pavement Improvement Center. He is Principal Investigator for projects for research, development and implementation for a wide range of pavement materials, design, asset management, cost, and environmental topics for the California Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Federal Aviation Administration, CalRecycle, the California Air Resources Board, the Transportation Research Board, other state DOTs and industry.
The event was eventually closed by EAPA Secretary General Carsten Karcher and Oliver Ripke, Head of the project executive board of the CEDR call for “new Materials” 2017, which includes the project PavementLCM. Both thanked Organisers, Speakers and Participants for the successful Webinar and supported the continuation of this initiative, organising future events, which will again bring together Road Administrations, Industrials, Researchers and Academics to discuss and define the future steps on Sustainability Assessment in the Asphalt Paving Sector.