Can Asphalt Really Be Green? You Bet

Blog

Perhaps it's that song about paving paradise to put up a parking lot that's to blame...but when people think about protecting the environment, asphalt is generally not at the front of their minds. Yet many of the biggest differences we can make for the environment involves finding greener ways to do the ordinary things we need to do, and asphalt paving is no exception.

If you are looking to pave a driveway or parking lot, there are some things you can look for in your asphalt in order to minimize its environmental impact.

Solar Reflective Pavement

In warm weather, the heat radiating off asphalt is enough to make the air shimmer. But that heat has some bigger effects – the heated air can actually raise the temperature of an area noticeably, especially in urban areas with large amounts of pavement. This heat, in turn, causes air conditioners to have to work harder and use more power; it helps fuel the creation of smog, it discourages people from walking outside, and it heats water runoff that can then damage watersheds.

To combat this, you can get reflective coatings applied to asphalt to decrease the amount of sunlight it absorbs and turns into heat. As an added bonus, the increased reflectivity of the asphalt improves visibility; just as it reflects sunlight during the day, it reflects streetlights at night, making for a safer and more well-lit area.

Reclaimed Asphalt Pavement

It takes energy to produce asphalt – which is why recycling already-produced asphalt can make a big difference to the environment. When older asphalt is torn up, instead of dumping it into a landfill, it is now usually processed into new asphalt; this production also takes less energy than the original production of new asphalt.

RAP also provides a way to recycle many other materials; today, this asphalt often incorporates ground tire rubber, slag from blast furnaces, sand from foundries, and other industrial byproducts. So if you want to reduce the carbon footprint of your asphalt, look for asphalt with a high content of RAP.

Warm-Mix Asphalt

It takes a lot of heat to work with asphalt; it is often heated up to 300 degrees Fahrenheit in order to make it soft and easy to apply. But advances in technology – specifically in asphalt additives and binders and mechanical techniques for working with the mix – allow warm-mix asphalt to be manufactured and applied at reduced temperatures.

These reduced temperatures mean using significantly less energy and fuel for paving, which is a huge boon to the environment. And as an added bonus, it also reduces exposure to fumes and risk of hazardous burns for workers.

With technologies like these, it's not surprising that asphalt continues to be an incredibly popular paving material in an ecologically sensitive age. So today, you don't have to choose between the parking lot and preserving paradise. Talk to paving contractors, such as Asphalt Maintenance, to further explore your green paving options. 

Share

18 February 2015

Finding Great Contractors

Do you know what to look for when it comes to finding a great team of professional contractors? I sure didn't until a few years ago, which was why I started focusing on doing everything I could to choose a team of experts that really understood what I was up against. I knew that the first step in making the construction process easy would be to work with great contractors, so I did everything I could to learn what I needed to in order to decide if they were right for my family and project. This blog is all about finding great contractors that can help you to streamline your project.