Reducing Carbon in Concrete Through Cement

Concrete is one of the best materials for resilient, durable and energy-efficient structures and buildings, but it can become a significant source of carbon. Andy Spencer, sustainability director for Cemex UK and chair of the UK Sustainable Concrete Forum, discussed how to change this in the latest episode of Construction Climate Talks.

“Within Cemex we have a carbon simulator system where we can work with clients to design carbon out of construction projects. We need to collaborate a great deal more in terms of starting at the design stage of construction projects, working together to specify available solutions that can save carbon, time and overall cost within the construction process,” said Spencer.

Typically, around 80 percent of the embodied carbon within concrete is cement. Therefore, this has to be a key focus in terms of carbon reduction initiatives. One main area of importance that the company has been working on is substituting fossil fuels within cement kilns with waste-derived alternative fuels. Cemex UK has replaced over 50 percent of its kiln fuel – saving carbon through the biomass content of the locally sourced fuels.

At the moment, Cemex is also doing research around the industry supply chain and is looking at novel and breakthrough projects relating to lower carbon cement manufacturing. “We’re also looking into the use of alternative cements in concrete. So, there are some really exciting developments going on,” said Spencer.

The Construction Climate Talks series by the Construction Climate Challenge initiative highlights some of the most important issues in climate sustainability today. See all the previous episodes here.

The initiative is hosted by Volvo Construction Equipment to promote sustainability throughout the entire construction industry value chain and provide funding for environmental research. It is a part of the company’s commitment to the World Wildlife Fund’s Climate Savers Program.

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