Colorado Public Works Journal, Spring 2022

Spring2022| 51 ACPA COLORADO/WYOMING CHAPTER Angela Folkestad, PE Making the Grade on Infrastructure Sustainability Infrastructure owners and designers are looking for lower carbon concrete mixes – the good news is that we are already building lower carbon concrete pavements in Colorado! While materials selections are important initially, two-thirds of a pavement’s total environmental impact over its lifetime occurs during the phase in which the pavement is in use. Longevity, rigidity, increased reflectivity, and renewable and recyclable qualities are all part of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Longevity: Particularly because of its long life, concrete is an economical, cost-effective pavement solution that consumes minimal materials, energy, and other resources for construction, maintenance, and rehabilitation activities over its lifetime. Renewable: Concrete pavement can periodically be renewed through diamond grinding, prolonging its lifespan, enhancing its smoothness, and improving its skid resistance. Diamond grinding doesn’t require additional materials, and actually removes a thin layer of concrete and allows the pavement to continue to act as a carbon sink. Rigidity: Because of its rigidity, concrete pavement deflects less under vehicle loading, which results in reduced vehicle Angela Folkestad is the executive director of ACPA, Colorado/Wyoming Chapter. She can be reached at fuel consumption, and research by MIT supports this: Concrete pavement also stays smoother longer, further increasing fuel efficiency for vehicles. Increased Reflectivity: Concrete pavement’s lighter color helps mitigate urban heat island effects and can help offset global warming. Its increased reflectivity improves nighttime visibility and reduces the amount of energy needed to illuminate roads at night. Recyclable: Concrete pavement is extremely long-lasting, and when it is ultimately time to rebuild, concrete is 100% recyclable. Recycled Concrete Aggregate (RCA) has been used successfully on concrete paving projects throughout Colorado and is even more important as aggregate becomes more challenging to mine, and we look for additional ways to reduce our impact on the environment. Interested in optimizing your pavement with expected use and performance conditions in mind to reduce costs and lifetime greenhouse gas emissions? Contact Angela Folkestad ( or Sarah Sanders ( to learn how. Diamond grinding restores smoothness and extends pavement life – and it can be done multiple times. Concrete recycling operation along I-76 near Wiggins, CO crushing RCA and base material.