Quantify the Potential for Pavement Rolling Resistance to Reduce GHG Emissions

Focus Area

Climate Change


Air Quality, Environmental Process






2-3 years

Research Idea Scope

TERI Database Administrator Notes:  Not recommended at present time by 2009 Air Quality Subcommittee. 

Vehicle technology and trip reduction have emerged as the primary strategies for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emission from the transportation sector.  However, these are both long-term solutions that are dependent on community and fleet turnover before benefits can fully realized.  Strategies that could reduce fuel use for the entire national fleet, including older, more polluting, models of vehicles and newer, cleaner, vehicles could provide substantial near-term reductions in transportation GHG emissions.  Reducing pavement rolling resistance for vehicles is one such strategy that has the potential to reduce fuel consumption and GHG emissions for all vehicles in the very near term.  Combining even a 2-3% reduction in rolling resistance with the subsequent reduction in fuel consumption has the potential for measurable GHG reductions at the state and national levels.  Part of what is needed to realize the potential benefits of lower rolling resistance pavement is an improved understanding of the following: 1) The connection between rolling resistance, fuel consumption, and GHG emissions; 2) The actual potential GHG reduction benefits that exist for new and existing pavement technology; 3) If and how these benefits can be quantified; 4) How can quantifiable benefits be applied to a project and/or environmental documentation; 5) The cost benefit of GHG emissions reductions from reducing rolling resistance

Urgency and Payoff

When applied to the national highway system, even small reductions in rolling resistance of 2-3% could lead to substantial reductions in fuel use and GHG reductions.

Suggested By

Tim Sexton, Washington State Dept of Transportation