Is Asphalt or Concrete more Environmentally Friendly?

For equivalent pavement designs, which is more environmentally friendly: asphalt or concrete?

Asphalt

  • lower ore and fertilizer input requirements
  • lower toxic production emissions
  • recycled in larger quantities

asphalt road, concrete sidewalk

Concrete

  • lower energy input
  • lower levels of hazardous waste generation
  • less maintenance
  • stiffer driving surface makes vehicles more fuel efficient, reduces emissions
  • reduce energy demand for lighting

The verdict

Resource input and environmental outputs are about equal over the life of each material. However, one material may be more appropriate than another in any given scenario, so functionality should be taken into consideration when choosing between asphalt and concrete.

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