Sustainable construction and development implies investing in the needs of today without compromising the resources of future generations to meet their needs. The components of sustainability are (1) Economic; (2) Social; and (3) Environmental. Reducing user costs by improving fuel economy from pavement type is important to advance sustainable development.
An on-going study of fuel consumption by vehicles traveling on rigid versus flexible pavements at Florida International University (FIU) Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering indicates that rigid pavements provide better fuel economy for the travelling public and commercial carriers. The FIU study along 28 miles of Interstate 95 in Brevard County indicates that travelers in passenger vehicles on rigid pavements use 3.2% less fuel compared to flexible pavements. In addition, the study shows that loaded tractor-trailers along the same corridor the rigid pavement provides 4.5% better fuel economy than the flexible pavement. These findings are consistent with research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and University of Texas at Arlington.
Hypothetically speaking, if all pavements within the Florida State Highway System were rigid construction the annual savings in fuel consumption could be 500 million gallons and the annual savings to the public could be in excess of $2.0 billion. Environmentally, CO2 emissions would be reduced by over 5 million metric tons annually as a result of reducing fuel consumption by 500 million gallons in Florida. While these overall benefits are extrapolated estimates, the findings of this study indicate the potential for real sustainable benefits by increasing rigid pavement lane miles into agency work programs.