Life cycle assessment of road construction alternative materials: A literature review

Alejandra Balaguera, Gloria Isabel Carvajal, Jaume Albertí, Pere Fullana-i-Palmer

Research output: Contribution to journalScientific reviewpeer-review

130 Scopus citations


© 2018 Elsevier B.V. Research on Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) was initially performed to analyze specific products; however, it evolved to assess environmental impacts of more complex systems, such as roads. In this, the construction, use and maintenance stages are usually considered. The results of different studies revealed that all stages have relevant environmental impacts like topsoil loss, change in the use of land, modification of natural drainage and groundwater patterns, landslides, erosion, sedimentation, landscape degradation, increase in noise and dust levels, fuel and oil spills, waste generation, and air, soil and water pollution. This paper presents the results of a literature review on the application of LCA in road construction as a tool to quantify the potential impacts derived from the use of traditional and alternative materials. The research showed that the most common materials found were recycled asphalt (concrete and bitumen), fly ash, and polymer. In addition, the environmental impact categories more commonly assessed were energy consumption and global warming potential (GWP). These results claimed that the construction of roads should be directed towards the fulfilment of technical, social, economic and environmental criteria. Finally, it was found that most of the studies were performed for high traffic volume roads; therefore, for developing countries, research is needed focussed on low traffic ones.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)37-48
Number of pages12
JournalResources, Conservation and Recycling
StatePublished - 1 May 2018


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