Report Ranks Concrete Paths To Carbon Reduction In Cement-Based Products

Paving the Way to Cost, Energy, and Carbon Savings in the Concrete Industry, a new report from Boston-based Lux Research Inc., assesses an expanding range of options designed to make concrete greener through improved cement-production techniques, admixtures affording lower portland cement dosages, and supplementary cementitious materials, plus building energy efficiency and performance technologies.

Reducing concrete’s carbon footprint doesnÌt drive adoption of these technologies so much as reducing the energy costs associated with concrete’s production and use, notes Lux Research Analyst Oliver Tassinari, lead Paving the Way author. Support for “sustainable buildings” is growing among policymakers, architects, engineers, and building material firms. Existing and slated government regulations and incentives are likely to accelerate adoption.

The report builds on Lux Green Buildings Intelligence service research and input from cement and concrete materials producers or practitioners. Among key findings:

  • Incremental improvements make the most headway. Technologies that improve current portland cement production ranked first in the analysis because they require minimal change on the part of cement manufacturers, engineers, and builders alike. Technologies that fit this category include migrating production to the dry process, heat recovery, alternative/waste fuels consumption, and further use of fly ash and slag. In all, they have the potential to reduce energy consumption by up to 65%, and reduce CO2 emissions by up to 60%.
  • Disruptive alternative cementitious materials fail to catch on. Most low-CO2 alternative cementitious materials—including those that use flue gas to precipitate materials—are still in the early stages of development. They are unproven, uncertified, and often require proximity to CO2 sources and seawater. Furthermore, they impose high capital requirements and make little economic sense without substantial global carbon pricing or regulation.
  • Innovative use of concrete leads to energy savings in buildings. The implementation of technologies like insulating concrete forms and aerated concrete has been slow due to high upfront cost and poor availability. However, adoption should increase as providers demonstrate energy savings upwards of 30% on heating and cooling loads. Additional technologies offer improved durability and strength of concrete, which will greatly reduce maintenance costs and the need for retrofits in the middle of a building’s life.

Paving the Way to Cost, Energy, and Carbon Savings in the Concrete Industry is part of the Lux Green Buildings Intelligence service. Subscribers receive ongoing research on market and technology trends, continuous technology scouting reports, and proprietary data points in the weekly Lux Research Green Buildings Journal, and on-demand inquiry with Lux Research analysts.

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