Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Ultra-High Performance Concrete (UHPC): Opportunities, Challenges, and a Case Study on a Signature Bridge

  • Zachary Haber (University of South Florida)


This is an accepted article with a DOI pre-assigned that is not yet published.

Decarbonization of our built environment has become a highly visible topic due to federal and state administrative priorities, industry initiatives, and significant coverage in print or digital media. The sustainability industry relies heavily on life cycle assessment (LCA) as the primary analytical method to quantify used resources and environmental impacts of products or processes over the life cycle of a product. Ultra-high performance concretes (UHPC), based on a per-unit volume environmental impact assessment, have considerably higher environmental impacts compared with conventional portland cement concretes. Yet, when LCA is used to assess UHPC-based solutions, the findings can demonstrate that UHPC can actually be more sustainable that other solutions that have lower portland cement contents. This presentation will discuss the opportunities and challenges related to LCA of UHPC-based solutions. Additionally, a limited case study will be presented. The case study will examine the environmental impact of UHPC bridge deck overlays compared with two conventional overlay solutions. The analysis is conducted assuming the overlay technologies are deployed on a hypothetical, yet representative long-span, signature highway bridge structure. The analysis includes impacts associated with initial production of raw materials, construction, and repair and maintenance activities for the service life, using data available from the literature. The results of the case study highlight the context-specific environmental impacts of the different deck rehabilitation strategies over the life of the structure.

Keywords: life cycle assessment, LCA, decarbonization, sustainability

Rights: © 2013 The Author(s). All rights reserved.

Peer Reviewed