Energy Use and Conservation in Highway Construction and Maintenance

Report No: 78-R42

Published in 1978

About the report:

This report reviews the options available to the highway engineer for the conservation of energy in highway construction and maintenance. In general, it was found that the objective of conserving energy is closely related to long-standing objectives to reduce costs and to conserve materials. Because poorly constructed or maintained roads result in increased dollar and energy costs to the public using such roads, it is concluded that the best construction and maintenance procedures, consistent with budgetary limitations and the need to provide as many miles of adequate highways as possible for the good of the maximum number of citizens, are most likely to be the least energy-intensive in the long term. The report reviews the potential for energy conservation with respect to (a) binding agents; (b) quality standards and quality control; (c) aggregates and other materials; (d) earthwork and existing roadway preparation; (e) use of waste materials, by-products and recycled products; (f) production and construction techniques, and (g) the possibility of new products and procedures past 1985. Energy saving opportunities in highway maintenance activities are discussed and some factors for estimating the amount of energy used in highway construction are given. Estimates for the amount of energy required to construct a rigid pavement and a flexible pavement using typical specifications of the Virginia Department of Highways & Transportation are included. Major conclusions and recommendations are given below. 1. No major changes from present-day construction practices are needed. 2. There is no need to establish within the Department an energy research group. However, an understanding of energy factors and potential energy problems is needed in all activities relating to highway construction and maintenance. Research and development programs related to energy can best be conducted within each of the major techniques involved in highway construction (asphalt, concrete, soils, etc.). 3. The areas identified as having the best potential for conserving energy in highway construction are: (a) increased use of industrial mineral wastes; (b) increased efforts to utilize local materials; (c) increased recycling of both asphalt and concrete pavements; (d) substitution of emulsions for cutback asphalts; and (e) long-range studies for minimum use of asphalt in highways.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


Other Authors

Woodrow J.Halstead

Last updated: January 27, 2024

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