CTLGroup Paving the Way on Transportation Infrastructure Sustainability Initiatives

The following is a piece on sustainability initiatives I wrote for civil engineering firm CTLGroup. It was used as a press release, online thought leadership article, and in an email blast.

CHICAGO, IL (October 9, 2013) – CTLGroup engineers and scientists are at the forefront of providing advanced sustainability services to clients across the transportation and materials and products industries. The firm’s experts have approached sustainability from a scientific and quantitative perspective in order to enhance performance, measure improvement and gauge the service life of highway pavements and other transportation infrastructure components. As a result of CTLGroup’s efforts, clients have seen the performance and durability of their infrastructure improve, while incurring significant cost savings and reducing their environmental footprint.

In recent years, the use of the word “sustainable” has become common, but CTLGroup has provided sustainable solutions to clients for decades. The firm works with thousands of clients optimizing concrete mixtures, reducing cement content, increasing the use of industrial by- products and reducing the overall carbon footprint of concrete structures over the life cycle. Many transportation agencies had previously focused on immediate economic costs, but those concerned with sustainability now must consider the economic, environmental and societal costs of a project over the entire life cycle. Their desire to save money and increase infrastructure longevity is significantly fueled by pressure from an increasingly budget-minded public, but so is their desire to provide good environmental and social value.

Several of CTLGroup’s recent projects illustrate its authority in this arena, and indicate a trend that will continue to expand for the foreseeable future. Known as an innovative leader in performance-based concrete mixture design specifications, CTLGroup played an integral role in providing advanced concrete testing, analysis and technical expertise for the Illinois Tollway’s 15-year, $12 billion capital program, Move Illinois: The Illinois Tollway Driving the Future. To help the Tollway realize its goal for Move Illinois to be the “cleanest and greenest” program in the agency’s history, CTLGroup worked with the Tollway to ensure that its pavement and bridge deck materials meet stringent mechanical and durability requirements (due to the tough winters of Illinois and elements such as deicers used on the pavement). The firm helped develop new performance-based specifications that provide both short-term and long-term solutions that are both cost effective and environmentally improved. Over time, less rehabilitation will be required, which means fewer construction delays – something tangibly beneficial to the traveling public.

CTLGroup plays a key role in the Federal Highway Sustainable Pavements Program. The firm assists Applied Pavement Technology as part of a team that includes: University of California Davis; University of Illinois; University of Washington; theRightenvironment; and Virginia Tech. CTLGroup helps lead the effort to advance the knowledge and practice of sustainability in pavements at a national level, and to establish a program that considers asphalt, concrete and new and emerging materials. CTLGroup experts are currently co-writing the reference manual for this initiative.

Working with our partner, Nichols Consulting Engineers, CTLGroup assisted the City of Chula Vista, CA with a study of cool pavements alternatives for new and existing infrastructure. To help achieve the city’s goal of promoting innovative energy efficiency throughout the community, CTLGroup identified a number of “cool” paving strategies as a potential tool to mitigate the urban heat island (UHI) effect. For one, light-colored reflective concrete does not absorb the same amount of solar energy as darker surfaces, and therefore contributes less to the heating of urban areas. This results in improved human comfort and health as well as improved energy efficiency through reduced air conditioning use. The CTLGroup/Nichols team investigated Chula Vista’s streets, pedestrian ways, parking lots and landscaping. For its study, the firm factored in issues of solar reflectance, installation cost, service and UHI to provide a cost/benefit analysis for various alternatives, identifying numerous opportunities to apply cool pavement strategies throughout the city’s infrastructure. Recommendations included a two-tiered implementation plan. This work is timely, considering the fact that California recently passed legislation (AB 296) requiring the California Department of Transportation to implement cool pavement strategies throughout the state.

Increasingly, CTLGroup is being asked to assist clients with environmental product declarations (EPDs), reports that categorize the environmental impact of a product. When version 4.0 of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system is released later this year, EPDs will be a key component of the requirements, making them an even more critical issue across all construction sectors.

These are only a few examples of CTLGroup’s continued thought leadership in the world of sustainability.

About CTLGroup

CTLGroup is an internationally-recognized expert consulting engineering and materials science firm that provides engineering, testing and scientific services to our clients in the following markets: Building & Facilities; Energy & Resources; Litigation & Insurance; Materials & Products; Transportation; and Emergent Solutions. Our 110-person staff includes professionals from the fields of civil, structural, geotechnical and mechanical engineering, architecture, geology, chemistry, ceramics and materials science. Our ability to deliver unique insights and solutions for our clients’ complex challenges is what makes CTLGroup an industry leader. Serving clients from around the globe, CTLGroup maintains corporate offices and laboratories in Chicago (Skokie, Illinois), as well as consulting offices in Washington, D.C., Austin, Texas, and Naperville, Illinois. Services for clients in New York and North Carolina are provided through CTL Engineers & Construction Technology Consultants, P.C. Website: www.ctlgroup.com.