Firemans Contractors Inc., Environmental & Sustainability Policy Statement
As a growing number of people become increasingly environmentally aware, many organizations are making decisions about their properties based on which options will have the least possible impact on the environment.
Long before the rest of the world started talking about “green” construction and realized that the environment is a concern for us all, asphalt companies were leaders in recycling. Nearly all reclaimed asphalt is recycled to produce new asphalt or used as aggregate road base. This saves landfill space and reduces the need for mining and processing of virgin materials.
Products such as Warm Mix Asphalt and Cold in Place Asphalt Recycling have been developed to further reduce the effects of asphalt pavements on the environment.
Firemans Contractors is committed to playing its part in making the world a more sustainable, responsible and equitable place.
Recently, the National Pavement Management Association (NAPA) published a sustainability report, the first of its kind for the asphalt industry, titled Black and Green: Sustainable Asphalt, Now and Tomorrow. It highlights the ways in which the asphalt industry’s everyday practices address climate change, improve air and water quality, provide green jobs, and reduce the carbon footprint of pavements. Firemans Contractors adopted it E.S.P.S. from these core values.
Asphalt is the sustainable material for constructing pavements.
From the production of the paving material, to the placement of the pavement on the road, to rehabilitation, through reuse/recycling, asphalt pavements minimize impact on the environment.
- America’s leading recyclers
The asphalt industry reuses and recycles nearly 100 million tons of its own products every year, making it America’s number one recycler. Reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP) actually reduces the amount of virgin asphalt cement needed for constructing new roadways. When RAP is incorporated into new pavement, the asphalt cement in the old pavement is reactivated, becoming part of the glue that holds the new pavement together and replacing some of the virgin asphalt cement that would otherwise be required. This makes the final product less vulnerable to market fluctuations in raw material prices while conserving precious natural resources. Other materials – including rubber from used tires, glass, and asphalt roofing shingles – are recycled into asphalt pavements.
- Asphalt reduces crashes
Smooth asphalt roads give vehicle tires superior contact with the road, improving safety. Open graded asphalt surfaces allow rainwater to drain through the pavement surface, reducing the amount of splash and spray kicked up by vehicles. Resurfacing with open-graded asphalt has been shown to reduce crashes and fatalities on highways.
- The road doesn’t wear out
Perpetual Pavements constructed from asphalt are the ultimate in sustainability. When appropriately designed and constructed, the road itself doesn’t wear out. For maintenance, the top layer is removed for reuse/recycling, then replaced quickly without causing traffic congestion.
- Noise reduction
Asphalt is the quiet pavement. Studies show that the noise-reducing properties of asphalt last for many years. Noise reductions of 3 to 10 dB(a) are common. Reducing noise by 3 dB(a) is about the same as doubling the distance from the road to the listener, or reducing traffic volume by 50 percent.
- Asphalt moves traffic along
In crowded urban areas, where closing a road for rehabilitation or reconstruction would dump increased traffic on to neighboring routes, asphalt is the answer. Highways and roads can be milled for reuse/recycling, then overlaid, during off-peak hours. An entire freeway can be resurfaced without commuters ever being inconvenienced. In congested conditions, cars and trucks consume fuel and produce excess greenhouse gases. Asphalt’s speed of construction allows planners and managers a way to fix congestion hot spots and bottlenecks, quickly and cost-effectively.
- Storm-water management with porous asphalt
Porous asphalt pavement systems are recognized by the U.S. EPA as a best management practice (BMP) for storm water management. When used for parking lots, roads, walking/biking paths, and other applications, porous pavements can turn runoff into infiltration; restore the hydrology of a site, or even improve it; improve water quality; and eliminate the need for detention basins.
- Environmental Applications
Drinking water reservoirs are often lined with asphalt, and asphalt cement is used to line water pipes that supply potable water to humans. Landfills are often lined and capped with asphalt. Some state fish and wildlife agencies even use asphalt pavement to line their fish rearing ponds
Cleaner Air, Cool Cities
- Asphalt plants are environmentally sound
Emissions from asphalt plants, including greenhouse gases, are very low and well-controlled. Since 1970, the asphalt industry has decreased total emissions by 97 percent while increasing production by 250 percent. Emissions from asphalt plants are so low, the EPA removed asphalt plants from its list of major sources of hazardous air pollutants.
- Cool cities
The urban heat island effect is not a black and white issue. Not just color and reflectivity but also thickness, density, and heat capacity all play a role in pavement heat retention. Another consideration is that highly reflective pavements pose potential safety and health risks because of increases in glare and ground-level UV radiation scatter.
- Less energy consumed by the traveling public
Definitive studies sponsored by government agencies show that pavement smoothness can reduce fuel consumption. Vehicles traveling on smooth pavements consume up to 4.5 percent less fuel than when traveling on rough pavements. Asphalt pavements start out smooth and stay smooth over the long haul.
- Lower emissions from vehicles
When vehicles consume less fuel, they produce lower emissions. Reducing emissions from vehicles would reduce greenhouse gas production and have a tremendous impact on global climate change. Smoothing out all our rough old pavements with asphalt overlays would be an energy efficient investment.
- Less energy consumed in building pavements
Over the pavement’s life cycle, asphalt pavements require only about half the energy to produce and construct than other pavements. Because asphalt pavements are perpetual, less energy is consumed in maintenance and reconstruction. Associated emissions are reduced as well. An asphalt pavement’s life-cycle carbon footprint is merely a fraction compared to other pavements’.
- CO2 sequestration
The Department of Energy recognizes asphalt as a top material that sequesters carbon. Asphalt pavement is a permanent resource that will never be consumed and will never emit greenhouse gases. Instead, it can be reused and recycled over and over again
- Asphalt’s big chill
Asphalt is cooling down the mix with innovative warm-mix asphalt pavement technologies. These new processes and products reduce the temperatures at which pavement material is produced and placed. Warm mix conserves 15 to 30 percent of the energy required at the mixing plant, reduces emissions, and yields construction benefits including a longer paving season in cool climates plus better performance and longer life for the pavements.
Firemans Contractors Inc. is committed to working with all of its clients and communities to create a culture and adopt practices that can achieve environmental sustainability.