In this paper, the material property assessment and crack identification of concrete using embedded smart cement modules are presented. Both the concrete samples with recycled aggregates (RA) and natural aggregates (NA) were prepared. The smart cement modules were fabricated and embedded in concrete beams to serve as either the actuators or sensors, and the elastic wave propagation-based technique was developed to detect the damage (crack) in the recycled aggregate concrete (RAC) beams and monitor the material degradation of RAC beams due to the freeze/thaw (F/T) conditioning cycles. The damage detection results and elastic modulus reduction monitoring data demonstrate that the proposed smart cement modules and associated damage detection and monitoring techniques are capable of identifying crack-type damage and monitoring material degradation of the RAC beams. Both the RAC and natural aggregate concrete (NAC) beams degrade with the increased F/T conditioning cycles. Though the RAC shows a lower reduction percentage of the modulus of elasticity from both the dynamic modulus and wave propagation tests at the given maximum F/T conditioning cycle (i.e., 300 in this study), the RAC tends to degrade faster after the 180 F/T cycles. As observed in this study, the material properties and degradation rate of RAC are comparable to those of NAC, thus making the RAC suitable for transportation construction. The findings in development of damage detection and health monitoring techniques using embedded smart cement modules resulted from this study promote the widespread application of recycled concrete in transportation construction and provide viable and effective health monitoring techniques for concrete structures in general.© (2011) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.