College of Engineering University of Wisconsin-Madison
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THE CONDUIT : The Civil & Environmental Engineering Department Newsletter


FALL / WINTER 2009-10


Featured articles

As climate changes, team explores new ways to manage stormwater

Environmental road trip: Rating system to assess 'green' highways

Professionals in education: Profiles of four adjunct faculty members

The 13th annual CEE Golf Outing!

Tight-knit steel bridge team aims for the top

Partnership produces water-run scooter

Middle East air quality study bridges borders


Regular Features

Message from the Chair

Focus on new faculty:
Carol Menassa

Alumni News

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Environmental road trip:
Rating system to assess 'green' highways

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Decorative initial cap Professors Tuncer Edil and Craig Benson are leading an effort they hope will turn many U.S. highways green.

The team, which includes PhD student Jin Cheol Lee, Professor Jeffrey Russell and Engineering Professional Development and CEE Assistant Professor Jim Tinjum, is developing a system to assess, rate and recognize highways based on their environmental impact. The researchers liken their rating system to the U.S. Green Building Council LEED certification for high-performance green buildings. “There is no such equivalent for highway systems,” says Edil.

The rating system will include “targets,” such as reduced construction-related greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption and landfill waste. Assessors will score highways based on stormwater management practices and other environmental considerations, as well as life-cycle cost and recycled materials content. “We think that one way to have a major impact on improving the greenness of highways is to substitute recycled materials as much as possible,” says Edil.

Tuncer Edil

Tuncer Edil
(Larger image)

Craig Benson

Craig Benson
(Larger image)

For decades, he and Benson have studied industrial byproducts, including coal-combustion byproducts, foundry sand and slag, reclaimed asphalt shingles and pavements, scrap tires, and other materials for beneficial use in construction. A few years ago, with colleagues at the University of New Hampshire, the two established the Recycled Materials Resource Center, which focuses on increasing wise and safe use of recycled materials for transportation infrastructure. Among their advances, the researchers have studied recycled materials’ environmental effects and established their technical equivalencies to traditional construction materials. They have made technical recommendations for using such materials in highway construction to transportation agencies and standards and specifications are under development.

The researchers currently are developing software that will enable highway designers to compare the benefits of choosing standard or recycled materials, and hope the rating system will encourage innovation and environmentally sensitive practices in the road-building industry.

The team is developing the system in consultation with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and Edil hopes departments of transportation nationwide will adopt it. “I think it’s going to encourage more use of recycled materials, resulting in sustainable construction and sustainable growth,” he says. “This is our way of approaching sustainability, though highway construction.”

Funding for the industrial byproducts research comes from a variety of sources, including the Federal Highway Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Wisconsin and Minnesota departments of transportation, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the Electric Power Research Institute, the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, the foundry and electric power industries, and byproducts marketing firms, among others.

 



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Date last modified: Monday, 22-February-2010
Date created: 22-Februaru-2010

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