ARB Research Seminar

This page updated May 3, 2017

Life-Cycle Assessment and Co-Benefits of Cool Pavements

Photo of Ronnen Levinson

Ronnen Levinson

Photo of John Harvey

John Harvey

Ronnen Levinson, Ph.D., Staff Scientist, Heat Island Group, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and John Harvey, Ph.D., Professor, Civil Engineering and Director, University of California Pavement Research Center, University of California, Davis.

May 03, 2017
Cal EPA Headquarters, 1001 "I" Street, Sacramento, CA

Research Project


Alongside other strategies such as urban forestry, solar PV, and cool roofs, the use of high-albedo "cool" pavements can be considered in programs intended to help cities, regions, and the state meet California's greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction and sustainable community goals. While cool pavements can mitigate urban heat islands, improve urban air quality, and in some cases reduce GHG emissions from building energy use, it is also important to consider the environmental consequences of pavement materials and pavement construction, and thus the life-cycle environmental impacts.

Recognizing this, the researchers developed a pavement life-cycle assessment for California cities and translated it into a dynamic decisions support tool. Local officials can use this tool to evaluate the life-cycle environmental impacts of various pavements, both conventional (lower albedo) and cool (higher albedo). The tool compares the primary energy and environmental effects of two possible pavement treatment scenarios over a 50-year life cycle, spanning from the extraction and manufacturing of pavement materials to the removal and disposal or recycling of the material at the end of its useful life. Users can determine, based on outputs from the tool, which options translate to greater reductions global warming potential, smog formation potential, generation of particulate matter, and energy demand. Local governments may use the tool as they evaluate pavement-related strategies for reducing their carbon footprints, which will in turn help the state meet its climate goals, and it may also be useful as they weigh the potential public health impacts of different pavement options.

Speaker Biography

Ronnen Levinson, Ph.D., is a Staff Scientist and Leader of the Heat Island Group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), Berkeley, California. Within his research portfolio he develops cool roof, wall, and pavement materials; improves methods for the measurement of solar reflectance; and quantifies the energy and environmental benefits of cool surfaces. He serves on the boards and technical committees of the Cool Roof Rating Council and the Global Cool Cities Alliance, and advises policymakers, code officials, utilities, and building rating programs about cool surfaces. He holds a B.S. in engineering physics from Cornell University and an M.S. and a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of California at Berkeley.

John Harvey, Ph.D., is a Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis). Dr. Harvey is Chair of the Transportation Technology and Policy Graduate Group. Professor Harvey serves as the director of the University of California Pavement Research Center (UCPRC), which has an ongoing Caltrans-sponsored project related to the research and development of a wide range of pavement technologies. Professor Harvey teaches concrete and flexible pavement design and rehabilitation, asphalt concrete materials, and project management at UC Davis. Dr. Harvey has been with UC Davis since 2002. Previously, he worked at UC Berkeley for 13 years and as a consultant in Nigeria and Texas for four years. He holds a B.S. in civil engineering from Oregon State University and his graduate degrees are from UC Berkeley.

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