Jobs in Construction: Exploring the Environmental Impact of Asphalt Production and Usage

Jobs in Construction Environmental

On, Allen Robinson who is an environmental engineer at Carnegie Mellon University said asphalt could be a big contributor to air pollution. But on the positive, the article said that air quality has improved in many parts of the United States. This is largely because of cleaner exhaust from vehicles and power plants. Working with asphalt at Kilgore Companies has been a transformative experience, both professionally and environmentally. As we get more into the world of jobs in construction and asphalt paving, we find ourselves increasingly drawn to the sustainable practices that define our approach. Today, we want to explore the environmental impact of asphalt production and usage, shedding light on the challenges we face and the strides we are making toward a greener future.

The Role of Asphalt Recycling

At the heart of asphalt production lies a crucial fact: it’s one of the most recycled materials in the United States. This recycling capability isn’t just a convenient feature; it shows the industry’s commitment to sustainability. Asphalt can be reused endlessly and put into new mixes without compromising the quality. This cycle of reuse minimizes waste and reduces the demand for virgin materials, making it a pivotal component of green construction.

We’ve seen firsthand how asphalt is a key player in recycling, especially in our construction work. Asphalt isn’t just strong for roads; it’s also great for recycling, which helps the environment.

When we recycle asphalt, we take old asphalt (called RAP) and mix it into new asphalt. This means we don’t need to use as many new materials, which is good for the earth and saves resources. The best part is, that recycled asphalt works just as well as new asphalt, so our roads stay strong.  Using recycled asphalt also helps us use less energy and produce fewer gasses that harm the environment. By reusing old materials, we avoid the pollution that comes from making everything new. In the end, asphalt recycling is a big win for the environment.  It’s a simple way we can be kinder to the planet in our construction work.

Environmental Challenges 

However, despite its recyclability, asphalt production isn’t without its environmental challenges. The process involves heating aggregates with bitumen, a derivative of crude oil, in asphalt plants. This operation consumes energy and contributes to carbon emissions. Additionally, the extraction and transportation of raw materials also add to the environmental footprint, highlighting the need for sustainable practices in every phase of production. Jobs in construction are working to help better the environment.

Air Quality Concerns

One of the most pressing environmental concerns of asphalt is its impact on air quality. During manufacturing and paving operations, asphalt releases pollutants that worsen air quality, especially on hot, sunny days. This air pollution not only affects human health but also contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, worsening climate change. Furthermore, asphalt’s heat-absorbing properties exacerbate the urban heat island effect, increasing energy demand for cooling and altering local climates. According to, “at least 1 in 10 people die from air pollution-related diseases. In 2017, air pollution was responsible for an estimated 5 million deaths globally.” 

In our work with asphalt production, we are acutely aware of the air quality concerns that are surrounding our operations. The process of heating aggregates with bitumen in asphalt plants releases pollutants into the air, especially during manufacturing and paving activities. These pollutants can have detrimental effects on both human health and the environment.

Particularly on hot and sunny days, asphalt production can significantly contribute to air pollution. This pollution not only impacts the quality of the air we breathe but also adds to greenhouse gas emissions, influencing climate change. 

As responsible stewards of the environment, we recognize the importance of addressing these air quality concerns. We continually strive to take measures that reduce emissions and minimize our environmental footprint. By embracing sustainable practices and technologies, such as warm-mix asphalt and incorporating recycled materials, we aim to lessen the impact of asphalt production on air quality and contribute to a cleaner, healthier environment for all and for many generations to come. 

Sustainable Practices in the Asphalt Industry

In response to these challenges, the asphalt industry has been actively embracing sustainable practices. The industry is incorporating recycled materials such as reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP) and recycled asphalt shingles (RAS) into new mixes. This reduces the need for virgin materials and lowers energy consumption. Technologies like warm-mix asphalt (WMA) further contribute by reducing production temperatures and emissions, demonstrating a commitment to innovation and the environment. 

Leveraging Lifecycle Assessments

Lifecycle assessment (LCA) studies play a large role in understanding and fixing asphalt’s environmental impact. These studies evaluate the environmental burdens across various stages, from resource extraction to disposal. The insights gained from LCAs inform decision-making processes, guiding the industry towards sustainable practices and minimizing environmental footprints.

Innovations and Future Prospects

Looking ahead, the future of asphalt production depends on embracing new and sustainable solutions. Many scientists and engineers are researching alternative binders, renewable energy use in production, and digital technologies like Building Information Modeling (BIM) are driving innovation in the industry. These advancements not only reduce environmental impacts but also create opportunities for jobs in construction focused on sustainability.

Job Opportunities in Green Construction

The shift towards sustainable jobs in construction isn’t just a trend—it’s a needed shift in the industry. As we prioritize eco-friendly materials, energy-saving designs, and green building methods, we are paving the way for a more sustainable future. The market’s embrace of recycled materials, renewable energy, and waste reduction is not only beneficial for the environment but also increases jobs.

Toward a Greener Future

Addressing asphalt’s environmental footprint requires a multifaceted approach. Sustainable practices, informed by lifecycle assessments and fueled by innovation, are essential to reducing environmental impacts. By embracing these strategies, the construction industry can lead the charge toward a greener and more resilient environment while creating meaningful jobs in construction that prioritize sustainability. If you’re looking to be a part of this transformative journey towards sustainability in construction, explore opportunities at Kilgore Companies and join us in building a brighter, greener future. As we continue to innovate and adopt sustainable practices, we can significantly reduce the environmental impact of asphalt production while creating a more resilient and eco-friendly construction industry. To learn more about Kilgore Companies, head to our website.