The application of techniques to analyze sustainability in the life cycle of small-span bridge superstructures is presented in this work. The objective was to obtain environmental and economic indicators for integration into the decision-making process to minimize the environmental impact, reduce resource consumption and minimize life cycle costs. Twenty-seven configurations of small-span bridges (6 to 20 m) of the following types were analyzed: steel-concrete composite bridges, cast in situ reinforced concrete bridges, precast bridges and prestressed concrete bridges, comprising a total of 405 structures. Environmental impacts and costs were quantified via life cycle environmental assessment and life cycle cost analysis following the boundaries of systems from the extraction of materials to the end of bridge life ("from cradle to grave"). In general, the results indicated that the environmental performance of the bridges was significantly linked to the material selection and bridge configuration. In addition, the study enabled the identification of the products and processes with the greatest impact in order to subsidize the design of more sustainable structures and government policies.
Keywords: bridges; design; life cycle assessment; sustainability.