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Building a Net Zero Future: NAPA’s The Road Forward Initiative Encourages the Asphalt Industry to Achieve Net Zero Carbon Emissions by 2050

by: Jessica Hoover
J. Richard Willis speaks at NAPA's Annual Meeting in January.
J. Richard Willis speaks at NAPA's Annual Meeting in January.
More and more National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) members are committing to building a net zero future by joining NAPA’s industry-wide initiative, The Road Forward: A Vision for Net Zero Carbon Emissions for the Asphalt Pavement Industry. The initiative calls on the U.S. asphalt industry to advance technologies, products, and processes to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The Road Forward initiative developed four main industry goals that focus on mixture production, pavement construction, material supply chain, and durability and performance.

  • The first goal is to achieve net zero carbon emissions during asphalt production and construction by 2050.
  • The second goal is to partner with customers to reduce emissions through pavement quality, durability, longevity, and efficiency standards by 2050.
  • The third goal is to develop a net zero materials supply chain by 2050.
  • The fourth goal is to transition to electricity from renewable energy providers in support of net zero carbon electricity generation by 2050 and reduce electrical intensities.

“Tied to each goal are specific tactics or areas that must be addressed to take steps closer to a net zero asphalt paving industry,” said J. Richard Willis, Ph.D., Vice President, Engineering, Research, & Technology at NAPA. “Some of these tactics are implementation of best practices to become more efficient. Others are more long-range, requiring further research and technological advancements. Activities and metrics to measure success have been developed for each tactic. Every year, NAPA’s Council for Engineering, Research, & Sustainability updates The Road Forward to ensure it is current and practical. As the industry changes, the tactics will evolve to ensure continual progress toward our net zero goals.”

A Focus on Industry Education
Nearly one year after the launch of the initiative in January 2022, NAPA is focusing on engaging, educating, and empowering the asphalt industry to achieve net zero carbon emissions through one of the first major efforts of the initiative: industry education. NAPA has gone on tour to promote and answer questions about the initiative and has presented to member groups, its State Asphalt Pavement Association (SAPA) partners, and state/federal government partners.

The association has also published a glossary and continued to share terms and definitions with NAPA members. According to Willis, having a common language is critical for advancing climate initiatives across all levels and can lead to the creation of legislation and implementation guidelines. The Road Forward initiative has been integrated into NAPA’s Asphalt Pavement magazine through contributed columns and into NAPA’s Pave It Black podcast through interviews with industry innovators, DOT officials, and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Other efforts to increase industry education include conducting seven webinars so far this year and publishing the first-ever industry-wide greenhouse gas emissions inventory. The inventory identifies where the U.S. stands on carbon emissions and how to immediately reduce emissions.

How to Get Involved
As of the date of publication, the following NAPA members have become funding partners for the initiative: Ajax Paving Industries of Florida, LLC, Astec Industries, Cargill Asphalt Solutions, Colas USA, Construction Partners, Inc., CRH Americas Materials, Earthwave Technologies, Inc., Gallagher Asphalt Corp., Granite Construction, Holcim US, Ingevity, Kokosing Materials, Inc., Kraton Corporation, Lindy Paving, M.U.C. Holdings, LLC, Peckham Industries, Inc., Summit Materials, Surface Tech, LLC, Teichert Materials, and Wirtgen America, Inc.
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NAPA members can become funding partners by joining the sponsorship program, which will demonstrate their commitment to climate stewardship and help pave the way for the industry to accomplish climate goals, among other benefits. Although this year’s sponsorship program has closed, NAPA will reopen the opportunity for its members in February 2023.

“Reaching The Road Forward goals requires all hands on deck,” Willis said. “It will change the way producers, equipment manufacturers, and even specifiers and engineers work. We have to start evaluating all aspects of our businesses through a new lens. People have to be constantly envisioning how else they can innovate. The asphalt pavement industry has never backed down from a challenge, but with challenge comes change. NAPA is bringing members, researchers, and road owners together to collaborate on these massive changes.”

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