Estimating carbon emissions from road use, maintenance and rehabilitation through a hybrid life cycle assessment approach – A case study
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© 2020 Elsevier Ltd Road infrastructure is an important source of carbon emissions. To estimate the carbon emissions of roads, life cycle assessment (LCA) methods are widely used. Due to budget constraints, road maintenance and rehabilitation (M&R) is preferred by road agencies over new construction. However, existing LCA studies on roads have limited considerations on the emissions from the use and M&R phases. This study aims to propose and illustrate a structured hybrid LCA approach that can be adopted by road agencies to evaluate carbon emissions of the use and M&R phases of roads. A path exchange LCA method and a tiered hybrid LCA method are integrated in the proposed approach. To illustrate the proposed approach, a case study of a road network in Western Australia is conducted, which includes 17,764 road segments. The results show that from 2017 to 2026, the GWP of use and M&R phases is increased from 467.8 t CO2-e/km to 589.5 t CO2-e/km·with an increasing trend. The use phase has much higher global warming potential than the M&R phase during the service life of roads. The results are the most sensitive to annual average daily traffic (AADT). In addition, heavy traffic roads in the metropolitan area and freeways with AADT higher than 20,000 are identified to be the most carbon intensive. The proposed approach is believed to have better accuracy when compared to a process-based approach and a tiered approach, which provide the results of 128.6–164.4 t CO2-e/km and 468.0–608.9 t CO2-e/km, respectively. The results can provide implications for road authorities to evaluate their priorities when allocating limited M&R funds to achieve sustainable objectives.
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