International contractor Royal BAM Group’s road construction activities specialize in the production, placement and end-of-life treatment of asphalt. As a construction company, BAM strives to achieve circular mobility by focusing its innovations on achieving lower CO2 emissions and more efficient use of energy and materials. One of the key goals of BAM is to reduce its CO2 emissions by 15% in 2015 compared to 2009.
In 1998, BAM started with the development of LEAB (Low Energy Asphalt Beton) an innovative type of asphalt that uses less energy, less scarce natural resources and has lower CO2 emissions than conventional asphalt. In order to investigate the potential of this new type of asphalt to create value for society, BAM commissioned a true price study. The study indicated that placing LEAB instead of conventional STAB (Rubble Asphalt Beton) creates a positive impact of €257.000 on the environment per kilometre of highway. This equals the environmental cost of energy use of about 120 Dutch households per year. To calculate the true price, the main environmental impacts of asphalt production were measured and translated into societal costs. The results show that the production, use and end-of-life treatment of LEAB asphalt is associated with 30% lower environmental costs than conventional asphalt. Coincidentally this equals the reduction in energy and CO2 reduction, but is buildup of other factors. This makes LEAB an undeniable proposition for amongst others government procurers, since it has the same quality, an equal or lower market price and a better environmental performance than conventional asphalt.
The study provided BAM insight into the size of environmental impacts occurring in the asphalt production chain, and made those impacts comparable. As shown in the figure, energy use, material use and ecotoxicity are the largest remaining environmental externalities for LEAB. The results help BAM to steer future innovations in the areas where they are most needed and prove that sustainable innovations, such as LEAB, can create value to society without causing extra financial costs.