Carbon footprint estimation in road construction: La Abundancia-Florencia case study

Marianela Espinoza, Noelia Campos, Rebekah Yang, Hasan Ozer, José P. Aguiar-Moya, Alejandra Baldi, Luis G. Loría-Salazar, Imad L. Al-Qadi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The environmental impact of road construction and rehabilitation can be associated with the increase of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which are highly related to climate change. Consequently, departments of transportation have recently focused on the development and implementation of tools to evaluate the performance of projects and minimize GHG emissions. An example is the use of life cycle assessment (LCA) to analyze and quantify the environmental impact of a product, system, or process, from cradle to grave. In this regard, the present case study quantifies the carbon footprint associated with the construction of the La Abundancia-Florencia highway, located in the province of San Carlos in Costa Rica. The analysis is also intended to generate consciousness both in the public and private sectors on the environmental impacts of road construction. After an LCA study, it was determined that the construction of the hot mix asphalt (HMA) layer generates a carbon footprint of 65.8 kg of CO2e per km of road. In addition, it was evident that HMA production generates the greatest environmental impact, among all the considered LCA production and construction stages, with a GHG contribution of 38% to 39% from bitumen only. Consequently, special attention to HMA production is required in order to minimize GHG emissions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2276
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Asphalt mixtures
  • Carbon footprint
  • Emissions
  • GHG
  • Life cycle analysis
  • Road

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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