Asphalt driveways are popular thanks to their fast installation process and known durability. Additionally, asphalt offers several eco-friendly benefits that homeowners will love, especially if they’re trying to reduce their carbon footprint. Asphalt driveways are ideal for colder climates since their dark surface can melt snow and ice faster than other counterparts. Asphalt is also less likely to chip or flake in comparison to concrete driveways. Now asphalt driveways are being applauded for their environmentally-friendly aspects.
Making choices that help the environment is no longer an option but a responsibility. By choosing asphalt, specifically recycled asphalt, you’re making a conscious choice to help the earth. Porous asphalt is another great eco-friendly option because it allows water and other liquids to flow freely through it. Asphalt plants are becoming increasingly environmentally sound, so you don’t have to worry about the process to make it. At the end of its life, asphalt can be recycled so that someone else can make use of it, making it the ultimate eco-friendly pavement choice.
When choosing what material to use to pave your driveway, you’ll have to consider climate, maintenance, cost, installation time, and appearance. Asphalt is an affordable option commonly used on roads, driveways, and parking lots. It is made of binder, filler, and aggregates, which are crushed rocks, gravel, and sand. Bitumen is the most common binder used in asphalt. The different layers work together to form a flexible pavement. When your driveway is properly maintained, asphalt can last for decades. Here are just a few of the benefits to choosing asphalt:
- Easy to maintain and resurface.
- Less likely to crack.
- Cracks can be repaired with a hot rubber crack refiller.
- Holds up well in cold climates.
- Won’t be damaged by salt used to melt ice.
- Installation only takes a few days.
- Has a lifespan of 20-30 years with the right care.
Environmental Benefits of Asphalt
Now that you know more about asphalt let’s talk about why it’s an environmentally friendly option. In addition to the ones above, there are many benefits to asphalt that make it a great choice for the environment. Considering how sustainable a pavement is requires looking at its entire life cycle, from production to the end of its life, if it has one. We will explore five of the environmental benefits asphalt driveways have.
Environmentally Sound Production Process
The first question to ask when regarding the sustainability of a product is how is it made? The production process of asphalt is clean, thankfully. Greenhouse gases and other emissions from asphalt plants are low and well-controlled. Between the years 1970 and 1999, the asphalt industry increased production by 250%. During this same period, they decreased total emissions by 97%. The EPA considers asphalt plants only minor industrial pollution sources, which is pretty notable considering how big of an industry they are.
Not only can asphalt be recycled and used again, but it also incorporates other materials into the mix as a form of recycling. Some of the most common items that end up in asphalt are rubber from used tires, glass, asphalt roofing shingles, and blast furnace slag. Using these materials in asphalt saves them from going into landfills, which is a real win for the environment. Also, the asphalt industry reclaims around 65 million tons of asphalt every year. They reuse or recycle about 99% of it, making it America’s number one recycler. When you choose to pave your driveway with asphalt, you can be assured it’s an environmentally-friendly choice, for this reason alone.
When porous asphalt is used on driveways, it can help with stormwater management more than other impermeable surfaces. Porous pavements can restore a site’s hydrology or even improve it while turning runoff into infiltration and eliminating the need for detention basins. By allowing water and other liquids to flow freely, porous asphalts help the environment in many ways.
When asphalt is produced locally, that makes it even more environmentally friendly. When you choose to hire a driveway paving company, you should enquire about where the asphalt is produced. Like anything, using local products and materials reduces environmental impact because they don’t have to travel far to get to you. The same goes for asphalt. If it is produced nearby, then time and energy are both saved in the time it takes from production to arriving at your driveway. Transporting asphalt far lengths will only hurt the environment by using fossil fuels and emitting fumes.
One environmental factor you might not be aware of is the urban heat island effect. An urban heat island is a metropolitan or urban area that is noticeably warmer than the surrounding rural areas thanks to human activities. The temperature difference is most noticeable at night and during the summer and winter. It is most apparent when winds are weak. So what does urban heat island effect have to do with asphalt? Well, porous asphalt pavements have been proven to lower nighttime surface temperatures when compared to impervious pavements. If you choose a permeable asphalt driveway, especially in the city, you can reduce this urban heat island effect. Many cities have their hottest heat signature at the airport, where the runways produce a lot of heat.
Helping the Environment by Choosing Asphalt
Asphalt is one of the most environmentally friendly pavement options you can choose for your driveway, especially when compared with concrete. Asphalt has a variety of sustainable properties that make it the right choice for selecting eco-friendly options for your property. Homeowners will love the benefits of asphalt, like affordability and durability, along with the factors that make it sustainable. You won’t have to worry about how asphalt is made or what will happen when it gets taken out. Thanks to recycling, your asphalt is already a sustainable choice that has saved other materials from going straight to the landfill. With its clean production process and ability to cool cities, asphalt is the best choice for your driveway.