What is a Sustainable Pavement?

What is a Sustainable Pavement?

A sustainable pavement is one that achieves its specific engineering goals, while, on a broader scale:
(1) meets basic human needs,
(2) uses resources effectively, and

(3) preserves/restores surrounding ecosystems.

Sustainability is context-sensitive and thus the approach taken is not universal, but rather unique for each pavement application. Furthermore, a “sustainable pavement” as defined here is not yet fully achievable. Today it is an aspirational goal to be worked towards, and ultimately achieved at some point in the future as sustainability best practices continue to evolve.

For pavement sustainability best practices, “sustainability best practices” are those that either (1) go above-and-beyond required regulatory minimums or current standard practice, or (2) show innovation in meeting those minimums and standards. As described here, these sustainability best practices do not achieve sustainability, but they are improvements on current common practice and represent progress towards sustainability.

For integrating sustainability into pavements, As a system characteristic that encompasses economic, environmental, and social dimensions, sustainability is necessarily the highest-level consideration for an infrastructure system and not just an added feature. Simply put, sustainability means “consider everything.” Other considerations (e.g., safety, conservation, ecosystem health, education, open space) are an expression of  (1)  various sustainability components, (2)  an order of precedence for those components,  and  (3)  a  plan to operationalize those components and precedence.


Editor: Le Van Phuc

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