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When it comes to parking lots, asphalt offers some significant benefits over concrete parking spaces. Asphalt parking lots can be installed in a matter of days, hold up well in colder climates, and, with the right — and fairly painless — maintenance, last for many years. Asphalt is, very often, simply the better choice. If you have ever found yourself wondering where that asphalt comes from before it’s poured in a parking lot, though, you may be surprised.

This black or brown substance can be found either in natural deposits (in which case it is more commonly referred to as bitumen), or be created as a byproduct of the petroleum (or crude oil) distillation process, after which it is processed further. Asphalt comes, in other words, from the depths of the Earth.

Although humanity didn’t figure out how to make asphalt by distilling petroleum until much later, the use of asphalt in its natural form can be traced back to the ancient Indus Valley city of Mohenjo-Daro, three centuries before the Common Era. In modern times, asphalt is not just used in road construction, but also put to work in tennis courts, roofing, dam construction, and even in the manufacture of paints.

Before you worry about the damage you may be causing to the environment by choosing a parking lot manufactured with fossil fuels, however, you will be interested to find out that asphalt can absolutely be the more environmentally-friendly option for your parking lot. That is because asphalt roads, driveways, and parking lots are increasingly being recycled and reused in novel projects.

In 2018, for example, only just over 20 percent of new asphalt projects relied on newly-manufactured asphalt in the United States. The other 80 percent came, instead, from recycled asphalt — making asphalt parking lots an unexpectedly green choice. Asphalt is, in fact, one of the most recycled materials across the globe.

To recycle an old asphalt road, driveway, or parking lot, the old projects are ground up and recoated to produce deliver fresh, new, construction projects that include parking lots. After an asphalt parking lot is installed, it also has the added environmental benefit of being permeable. This means that water that accumulates on its surface has the ability to seep through to the soil underneath it, allowing for better drainage as well as superior soil health.

Your new asphalt parking lot may have originated deep within the Earth, but chances are that it had an entirely different life, perhaps as a road, before it came to provide your customers or clients with a reliable place to park their vehicles.