Athena Sustainable Materials Institute Releases Update to Its Pavement LCA Tool with a New Name and Many New Features

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The North American pioneer in construction sector LCA today released Version 2.1 of ‘Pavement LCA’, formerly known as the Impact Estimator for Highways, with a variety of new features including US locations and sample projects

We are happy we've been able to expand the capability and regional coverage of the tool. We are hoping it will become the tool of choice for North American roadway design assessment.

The Athena Sustainable Materials Institute today released Version 2.1 of its Pavement LCA tool, formerly known as the Impact Estimator for Highways.

While initially envisioned as an assessment tool for major freeways and arterial roadways, the tool is actually able to assess the environmental footprint of any roadway cross-section along its length and over its service life – hence the name change to ‘Pavement LCA’.

Version 2.1 contains a host of new features:

  • Hello USA! The ‘made in Canada’ software now supports three US regional locations – California, Illinois, and a US average location – and contains multiple US-centric sample roadway projects.
  • A variety of new concrete mix designs have been added, and users can add their own custom mixes with the help of a tutorial on the Athena YouTube channel.
  • While continuing to support the pavement vehicle interaction module based on the latest research from the Concrete Sustainability Hub at MIT, the software now separately reports roughness and deflection effects.
  • Estimating steel reinforcement input mass requirements is easier now, thanks to a new spreadsheet resource file.
  • Users can now set the rigid pavement slab length, between 3 and 100 feet.
  • Download and installation are faster in the new release.

Version 2.1 includes a number of new and updated LCI databases and processes:

  • US Life Cycle Inventory data for Portland cement has been updated.
  • A new North American Slag Cement LCI profile has been added, based on a North American industry average LCA and EPD for the industry conducted by Athena on behalf of the Slag Cement Association.
  • Asphalt patching has been added as a new activity type.
  • The ready mixed concrete plant process has been updated based on the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA) 2014 industry average LCA and EPD for concrete.

Version 2.1 also offers new sample projects for California, Illinois and US average roadway designs.

The Athena team are excited about the potential of Pavement LCA in its new form. "We are happy we've been able to expand the capability and regional coverage of the tool," said Jamie Meil, Research Principal. "We are hoping it will become the tool of choice for North American roadway design assessment."

This release was made possible by the support of the Cement Association of Canada, as well as NRMCA, the Portland Cement Association, Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Concrete Sustainability Hub, the Slag Cement Association and Athena Institute members.

The Pavement LCA tool is available as a free download from the Athena website.

Complete details of the release are available here.

The Pavement LCA tutorial can be viewed here.

The Athena Institute is a non-profit consultancy and think tank in life cycle assessment (LCA) for the built environment. The North American pioneer in construction-sector LCA, the Athena Institute works with sustainability leaders in product manufacturing, building design, construction, and green rating programs to enable smaller footprints in the production and consumption of materials, buildings and infrastructure. Athena’s common-good work includes free LCA software tools for architects and engineers and the development and maintenance of a large LCI/LCA database on construction materials and processes that underlies our tools. We additionally advocate and educate on the benefit of LCA in construction practice and in industry in order to help meet our mandate to mitigate the environmental burdens embodied in works of construction. Our support network includes a range of product manufacturers, trade associations, design professionals and other research organizations.

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