Evaluating and enhancing construction material sustainability requires a life cycle perspective of the structures in which they are used, since material properties and durability can have a profound effect on overall infrastructure performance. A framework is proposed to evaluate and enhance the design of "greener" materials that integrates material design, structural design, and life cycle modeling of the built system. This framework is applied to engineered cementitious composite materials, a family of high performance fiber-reinforced composites used as link slabs in a concrete bridge deck. Modeling results show incorporating waste materials, such as fly ash, should be pursued only if the material retains adequate durability for the structural application where it is used. Additionally, traffic congestion resulting from bridge deck construction and rehabilitation events dominates environmental and economic life cycle results, consuming the most energy, producing the largest amount of pollutants, and generating the greatest life cycle costs.
CSS Publication Number:
Life cycle assessment
Life cycle cost
Materials and Structures
Kendall, A., G.A. Keoleian, M. Lepech. 2008. Materials Design for Sustainability through Life Cycle Modeling of Engineered Cementitious Composites. Materials and Structures 41(6): 1117-1131.