Aug 23, 2019
Label Asphalt Sustainable
BY Sandy Lender
Numbers tell a story. They provide clarity, something measurable and something objective. This article from long-time plant manager Ken Monlux drives this point home for assessing, monitoring and possibly revamping plant operations, but let’s look right here at some specific types of numbers that can be used to boost the very selection of an asphalt pavement mix for a project.
The asphalt industry finds itself called upon to use environmental labels and declarations concerning our mixes, and the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) sustainability committee has assembled a program to assist. The Emerald Eco-Label is NAPA’s verified Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) tool, designed to allow asphalt mix producers to develop plant-specific, mix-specific EPDs that comply with the product category rules (PCR) for asphalt mixtures. That’s a lot of acronyms to track, so stay with me here.
The road-building industry is being called upon to label and assess data that is seen as impactful to the environment. Joseph Shacat, the director of sustainable pavements at NAPA, explained that green rating systems, such as LEED v4, are the primary market drivers behind this movement. At this time, he shared; the city of Portland is now requiring EPDs for concrete. It is in our best interest to be ready to show the EPD of a mix coming out of an asphalt plant at a moment’s notice.
Think about what elements go into an asphalt pavement mix. Each of those elements can be tracked and can be assigned a level of energy use or environmental sustainability—a footprint, if you will. That measurable and objective data can then be placed on a label and shared with customers who earn credit for being environmentally responsible when making positive pavement choices for their projects.
To earn credits for a green construction project, a contractor has to provide information on—declare—the environmental impact of his product. The mechanism by which he submits the information is the EPD—the Environmental Product Declaration. This has been standardized. It’s the way to communicate the performance or environmental impact of the product. It will quantify the potential environmental impact based on the lifecycle assessment, which is an ISO standards-based method for analyzing the materials, energy use and emissions of a product.
This reality is here. The good news is asphalt mixes do tell an environmentally sustainable story. Our industry is not the big bad wolf. By getting on board with EPD labeling, you can make sure your facility is part of the positive narrative. As Shacat explained, the Emerald Eco-Label is a user-friendly, web-based system that is cost-effective. Thus, ours is not a difficult story to tell.
You can read more about the genesis of and use of product declarations for asphalt in the article “Quantify Environmental Benefits of Asphalt” on www.TheAsphaltPro.com.