Mao, Zhuting (2012-10). Life-Cycle Assessment of Highway Pavement Alternatives in Aspects of Economic, Environmental, and Social Performance. Master's Thesis. Thesis uri icon


  • Economic Input Output Life Cycle Assessment (EIO-LCA) provides economic transactions, environmental emissions, and energy use throughout a product's life cycle based on a dollar amount of the product. A custom EIO-LCA model was conducted to compare three major rigid pavements of Jointed Plain Concrete Pavement (JPCP), Jointed Reinforced Concrete Pavement (JRCP), and Continuously Reinforced Concrete Pavement (CRCP) within the perspective of economic transactions, greenhouse gases, energy use, hazardous waste, toxic releases, water withdrawals, and transportation movements. The analysis results indicate that CRCP be the most cost-efficient and sustainable choice among the selected rigid pavement alternatives as it requires the lowest life-cycle cost and has the least unfavorable impact on environment when compared to the JPCP and JRCP. Potential improvements could be investigated for the processes of cement manufacturing, power generation and supply, ready-mix concrete manufacturing, and truck transportation because the EIO-LCA results reveal that they are the top sectors contributing to the energy use and greenhouse gases emissions. The results also indicate that some sectors such as storage of materials, landfills, and soil waste management should be taken into account in order to reduce toxic releases. Moreover, the utilization of local human resources as well as raw materials would help to minimize transportation movement. This study shows that EIO-LCA is a valuable tool and presents how it can help decision-makers make a better-informed decision when there are multiple options. In future studies, uncertainties related to location and time should be captured to generalize the results of the EIO-LCA with more sophisticated data collection and stratification protocol.

publication date

  • October 2012