NAPA Tackles Carbon Emissions With Road Forward Plan

Feb. 24, 2022

The National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) is kicking off 2022 with an ambitious vision: achieving net zero carbon emissions for the asphalt pavement industry by 2050. Through its Road Forward initiative, the association is focusing on a mission to engage, educate, and empower the U.S. asphalt community to produce and construct net zero carbon emission asphalt pavements.

The Road Forward action plan was born after NAPA’s 21-member Climate Stewardship Task Force gathered last year to research the asphalt industry’s role in creating sustainable commerce and communities. This was driven in part by the Biden Administration rejoining the Paris Climate Accords and announcing the goal for the entire country to be carbon neutral by 2050. As nations and industries worldwide began pledging to reach net zero emissions, NAPA rose to the challenge.

“The industry has consistently risen to the occasion when challenges have arisen, and once again, we are being called to action,” said Richard Willis, NAPA’s Vice President of Engineering, Research, and Technology.

NAPA breaks the Road Forward plan down into four key goals: 

  • Achieve net zero carbon emissions during asphalt production and construction by 2050. This will mean that the asphalt industry will not contribute any emissions from its operations, whether from producing or paving asphalt. Willis says the industry will need to identify ways to reduce energy demands at asphalt plants and improve efficiencies–especially with burner operations.
  • Partner with customers to reduce emissions through pavement quality, durability, longevity, and efficiency standards by 2050. The industry will need to rely on customers and stakeholders to achieve net zero emissions by creating strong partnerships and advocating for sustainable policies and standards. This will involve educating owners and decision-makers on tools such as alternative construction scheduling, perpetual pavement design, and more. 
  • Develop a net zero materials supply chain by 2050. This will involve engaging with binder and aggregate suppliers, additive manufacturers and more to ensure negative environmental impacts are being reduced in the production of their product. “This goal allows us to advocate for better use of reclaimed asphalt pavement in our mixtures and look at new and innovative technologies which could allow us to further reduce our carbon footprint,” Willis said.
  • Transition to electricity from renewable energy providers in support of net zero carbon electricity generation by 2050 and reduce electrical intensities. As the power generation industry moves toward net zero carbon, the asphalt industry can advocate for cleaner electricity from its providers. Providers can especially work to achieve net zero in their business operations.

While achieving these goals will be no small feat, Willis said it’s entirely possible when all stakeholders come together. The end result will not only benefit our communities, but will improve business performance and help to recruit the next generation of workers to the asphalt industry. 

“We need the entire industry to walk down the road forward with us,” Willis said.  This includes owners. The second goal of partnering with customers to make change shows that collaboration for change is necessary. The asphalt industry wants owners to embrace these goals and make them their own.

Owners can make a difference by:

  • Expanding the adoption of perpetual pavement design methodologies, improved construction practices, and pavement preservation.
  • Embrace balanced mix design methodologies which will allow for lower carbon materials while maintaining or improving performance.
  • Develop contract incentives for actions that reduce emissions through improved pavement quality or improved vehicular fuel economy.

To learn more about the Road Forward initiative and how to get involved, visit www.asphaltpavement.org/climate.  
 

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