Calculating the lifecycle of pavements

by Ofentse Sefolo
Calculating the lifecycle of pavements

Infrastructure development in South Africa is low and government is encouraging municipalities and developers to take better care of their assets. While there will be a need for new infrastructure assets, the Municipal Infrastructure Grant, established to assist municipalities with funding, also emphasises the need to replace and rehabilitate existing infrastructure instead of building more.

The MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub published a paper entitled Life Cycle Thinking – Pavements, that evaluates the total economic burden of a pavement over its lifetime through a Pavement Life Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA). The LCCA, which takes into account factors like weather, traffic levels and maintenance schedules, helps planners understand the full cost of a paving project, leading to a more accurate planning and cost decisions. By incorporating LCCA into the design stage, planners can improve performance and lower costs.

What is a lifecycle assessment?

A Lifecycle Assessment (LCA) evaluates and accounts for the total impact of a paving choice by examining the contributions of all activities associated with the project including material choice, design and construction activities, the use of the pavement, long-term maintenance needs, and ultimately, removal or disposal.

According to the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub, two-thirds of a pavement’s total environmental impact over its lifetime occurs during the phase in which the pavement is in use – well after material and design selections have been made. The institution also found that optimising pavement with expected use, and keeping pavement performance conditions in mind, can improve costs and reduce CO2 emissions.

Full thanks and acknowledgement are given to www.cshub.mit.edu for some of the information in this article.

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