The importance of asphalt sustainability takes center stage in New Orleans

Asphalt Sustainability

The National Pavement Asphalt Association (NAPA) recently held a sustainability conference in New Orleans and Better Roads magazine was in attendance. The two-day event stressed the importance of sustainability, and why it’s so important to the future of the industry.

Adam Hand, Director of Quality Management at Granite Construction, was one of several presenters who spoke about the evolution of sustainability and why it needs to become increasingly important in coming years.

Granite Construction was founded in 1922 and has withstood the test of time. Part of the reason the company has been so successful throughout the years is because of its willingness to evolve with the industry.

“Our company is over 90 years old, and I’m sure our founders never used the word sustainability,” Hand said, while speaking about Granite Construction’s recent focus on sustainability.

Adam Hand, Director of Quality Management at Granite Construction.Adam Hand, Director of Quality Management at Granite Construction.

Granite Construction believes there are several reasons why sustainability will continue to become a more important issue nationwide. Hand pointed out that the world’s population is expected to grow from 7.2 billion to over 9.5 billion in 2050, which means there will be a higher demand, and more people traveling on roads throughout the world.

Hand also mentioned the world’s depleting ecological wealth, and the ongoing climate changes.

“It’s estimated by 2025, 2/3rds of the population will live in water stressed environments,” Hand says.

Hand also believes the surge in digital communications and overall sustainability awareness will contribute greatly to its importance throughout the world.

Granite Construction isn’t the only company that has started to see the importance of sustainability. Hand says he sees several other companies starting to value sustainability, because it is becoming an important key to success in the industry.

According to the UN Global Compact-Accenture 2013 sustainability study, 93 percent of CEOs see sustainability as an important key to the success of their businesses.

“Our company is not alone, there are a lot of other companies who are starting to focus on sustainability,” says Hand. “I think there’s a really strong tie between sustainability and business success”

The study also found the 80 percent of CEOs believe it’s important to measure and try to reduce their company’s footprint on the environment. 75 percent said it’s important to satisfy societal needs and protect the interest of future generations.

“CEOs are unequivocal in their belief that the global economy is not on the right track – and that business is not doing enough to address global sustainability challenges,” the study said.[gtblockquote type=”right”]”We have to be conscious of what we’re putting in pavements…”[/gtblockquote]

It’s also important to pay attention to the materials that are being put in pavements. Eventually all roads will need to be redone, or repaired. But wouldn’t it be great of the pavement being repaired could be recycled for future use?

“We have to be conscious of what we’re putting in pavements to make sure they are recyclable in the future.” Hand says.

Granite Construction believes it’s on the right track when it comes to sustainability, but the company knows it will have to continue to evolve in order to stick around for another 90+ years.

A focus on sustainability is still fairly new for the industry, and new tools to help measure sustainability need to be invented. NAPA has taken it upon itself to alert companies of the importance of sustainability, and more companies are beginning to take notice. That was evident by the large number of company representatives in attendance at NAPA’s sustainability conference in New Orleans.