Low Carbon Concrete Solutions

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This article explains what low carbon concrete is, how it can be produced and what the future looks like for concrete in a decarbonised and circular construction industry. It also covers how you as a designer can influence its embodied carbon impact.

Concrete is the most consumed man-made material in the world with 14 billion m3 of concrete produced in 2020. Concrete is a critical construction material for buildings and infrastructure projects. Its popularity is due to its strength, durability, versatility and in most cases the relatively low cost.

Concrete also comes with a high embodied carbon impact, which is caused by the production of cement, one of its main constituents. This is due to cement’s energy intensive production process and carbon emissions from the chemical calcination process. Depending on the construction cycle, cement is responsible for circa 8% of the global GHG emissions. Another challenge when using concrete is reusability. Practically all concrete today is crushed into aggregates at the end of the building’s life.

Due to the very high volume used, there’s no material that can replace the use of concrete. While alternative construction materials have a valuable role in decarbonization of the built environment, their scalability is not sufficient to replace concrete. Other materials however help spur innovation in the concrete sector to improve its environmental performance.


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