FHWA Climate Challenge

In the United States, the transportation sector is responsible for approximately 29% of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Therefore, state departments of transportation (SDOT) must create plans and develop strategies to reduce GHG emissions and promote their adoption. To achieve this goal, SDOTs first need to measure and/or quantify the amount of GHG emissions produced by their infrastructure projects. Over the last several decades, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has evaluated the performance of several technologies that can help reduce environmental burdens in pavement materials and construction. Despite these studies, VDOT does not currently quantify the potential environmental benefits from these practices largely because it is not required to do so. In addition, the required data, in many cases, do not exist or do not exist in an open-source format. Thus, there is a need to develop these background data to quantify and communicate the environmental impacts and GHG emissions. To promote this work among SDOTs, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) developed a Climate Challenge Initiative. The objectives of this project are to expand the level of knowledge within VDOT and to begin collecting the necessary data to quantify the environmental impacts of selected paving practices within the agency. These objectives will be achieves by: educating VDOT on the use of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs); and collecting materials production, transport, and pavement construction data in an open-sourced format to develop standards for quantifying environmental impacts during various stages of the life cycle.