Sealcoating as a Sustainable Preventative Maintenance Practice
One of the overarching goals of sustainability movements worldwide is to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to combat global warming and climate change. At first blush, you may not think the way your organization maintains its parking lots affects GHG emissions. However, a closer look into the GHG emissions associated with paving new parking lots makes a strong case for preserving existing pavement with regularly scheduled sealcoating and crack filling maintenance. While the most common sealcoat product has been widely criticized, innovators in the marketplace have created eco-friendly, bio-based alternatives to incumbent products.
Asphalt is Not as Tough as it Looks
Asphalt is not as tough as it looks. In fact, without properly scheduled maintenance, you can expect a freshly paved parking lot to deteriorate significantly in as little as 5 to 7 years. You can think of asphalt as glue that holds rocks together and provides a uniform black color. This glue, however, is especially susceptible to chemical damage from:
- UV rays,
- oxidation, and
- gasoline & oil leaks.
These represent some of the most common occurrences in a parking lot setting. As a result of this, new asphalt left untreated fades from a uniform black to a dull grey and becomes brittle and fragile rapidly, eventually requiring a complete and costly overhaul.
Replacing Your Parking Lot's Asphalt
When the time comes to replace your untreated asphalt, the GHG emissions associated with doing so pile up quickly. This process entails GHG emissions from:
- Machinery to remove old asphalt
- Hauling damaged asphalt off site
- Surface preparation to lay new asphalt
- Production of new asphalt
- Transporting new asphalt on-site
- Application of new asphalt
- Curing process of new asphalt
By regularly sealcoating with an environmentally friendly product, your asphalt should last 2-3 times longer.
It’s not difficult to imagine the emissions replacing your parking lot entails. Without regularly scheduled preventative maintenance, you can expect this to take place every 5 to 7 years. However, by regularly sealcoating with an environmentally friendly product, your asphalt should last 2-3 times longer. This is because a worthwhile sealcoating product should offer superior protection against UV rays, gasoline, oil, and other chemicals commonly found in parking lots.
As an added benefit, sealcoating costs mere cents per square foot compared to the dollars per square foot expenditure replacing pavement entails. Regularly sealcoating also makes costs associated with your parking lot more predictable, minimizing the chances of your organization being hit with an unexpected expenditure for replacing asphalt left beyond repair after a harsh winter.
When you consider the life-cycle cost of your parking lot from an environmental and economic perspective, sealcoating with an environmentally product is a sustainable solution.
How many years does your asphalt last? Share your experiences with us in the comments below!