Asphalt goes 'green'

Published May 28, 2009 12:00 am
Environment » Warm-mix asphalt reduces machine emissions by 35 percent.
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It's called "green asphalt," but it's not referring to the color. It's cooler, and therefore emissions are lower.

Granite Construction is introducing environmentally-friendly asphalt, which it says is a first for Utah.

Last week, Granite workers paved a street for free in Cottonwood Heights between 1620 East and 1700 East on 7000 South -- about the length of a city block -- as part of a demonstration for some 120 state and local officials.

"This is our way of going green as a company," said Abby Albrecht, Granite's business-development and public-affairs manager.

Granite, an 87-year-old California-based company, opened in Utah in 1995. It owns a gravel pit at the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon in Cottonwood Heights.

"Green asphalt" has been used in Europe for about five years and on the East Coast of the U.S. for two years, Albrecht said. Granite started using it in other states about a year ago, she said.

The new warm-mix asphalt is an alternative to the traditional hot-mix asphalt. The warm mix is made at about 250 degrees, compared to the traditional 350 degrees, so the machines don't have to work as hard. This reduces emissions and carbon monoxide by 35 percent, Albrecht said.

The green asphalt costs the same, takes the same amount of time to put down and is the same dark color as traditional asphalt, she said.

Except for the temperature, "it feels and looks the same," Albrecht said.

Some public officials said they were surprised the green stuff looks exactly like "normal asphalt."

Kevin Smith, the city's public-works director, said he plans to consider it for future projects, such as residential streets and parking lots.

"It seems great," Smith said. "We'll watch how it works over time."

Granite is scheduled to demonstrate the green asphalt for public officials in Ogden next week.

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