MIT researchers evaluate real costs, environmental impacts of infrastructure
Finally, researchers reviewed fuel economy from a unique perspective.
Instead of focusing on the efficiency of cars and trucks, they analyzed how pavement properties affect fuel economy. MIT developed the first-ever mechanistic pavement-vehicle interaction (PVI) model that relates fuel consumption to pavement material and structural properties. This model provides realistic estimates of changes due to deflection.
Pavements that deflect or bend slightly under traffic loads cause cars and trucks to run in a slight depression that increases fuel consumption.
Pavements with greater stiffness, MIT found, mean better fuel economy for the vehicles that travel on them. As an example of the initial results, MIT looked at typical material properties for concrete and asphalt pavements and found that for the same stiffness and fuel consumption, an asphalt pavement had to be up to 60 percent thicker than the concrete pavement. With fuller development of this model, it will be possible to include the impacts of pavement properties and on fuel usage in both the environmental and cost analyses.
Furthermore, the research conducted by MIT has quantified the relative CO2 contribution from buildings across all phases of a building’s life cycle.
This rigorous analysis, with a similar study of whether the best environmental strategy was beneficial economically, will allow the construction industry to improve the accuracy and transparency of existing and future life cycle assessments, providing legislators, code making bodies and building design professionals with a comprehensive and unbiased LCA.
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