Source: Concrete Sustainability Hub at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge
In a statement on President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, the MIT-hosted Concrete Sustainability Hub (CSHub) cited work since 2010 to address two of his key points: building a 21st century transportation sector and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
CSHub research has shown that employing a more rigid pavement design can reduce vehicle fuel consumption by 0.1–1 percent. While this may seem minor, the impact is large when aggregated to the nation’s transportation fleet. Considering that trucks alone travel roughly 300 million miles and consume over 47 million gallons of fuel each year, leading to 425 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions, there is a potentially tremendous annual impact.
In addition, research has shown that maintaining smooth road surfaces can reduce fuel consumption significantly. Rough roads increase the resistance on a vehicle; in fact, a rough road could increase the fuel consumption of cars by 1,000 to 30,000 gallons per mile per year depending on traffic volume, equivalent to upwards of 300 tons of CO2 per mile of road per year.
With an eye to lowering the carbon footprint of concrete—the most widely produced man-made material on Earth—CSHub is working to find new production methods that minimize energy use and improved finished structures and surfaces’ longevity and durability.