Chasing the Carbon Cure

There is no doubt that reducing the cement industry’s carbon footprint is a priority. The Portland Cement Association’s (PCA) Roadmap to Carbon Neutrality recently celebrated one year of progress.

PCA said notable achievements over the past year across the value chain include:  

  • Multiple cement manufacturers in the United States, with support from the Department of Energy, have begun pilot projects around emerging technologies that capture carbon before it is emitted and reusing it for another purpose or storing it.
  • Increased acceptance and use of portland-limestone cement (PLC), a product that reduces the carbon footprint of concrete by about 10%. In addition to private building projects, PLC has been approved by 44 state departments of transportation.
  • Growing consumer demand for sustainable concrete, with companies specifying low-carbon materials for major construction projects as part of their own sustainability goals.

“Through this Roadmap, we are creating a built environment that is durable and also sustainable,” said Ron Henley, president, GCC of America and former PCA chairman. “We are demonstrating that the cement and concrete industry can address climate change, reduce greenhouse gases, and eliminate barriers that are restricting environmental progress.”

And to be sure, that effort is being pushed both from the top down, and the bottom up. New Dodge Construction research reveals that building interests are actively seeking to reduce the carbon footprint of concrete construction. Data shows that 81% of structural engineers and 69% of contractors working with concrete are tracking the embodied carbon on their projects, and about one-third taking action to address the metric.

The “Building Sustainably: The Drive to Reduce Embodied Carbon in Concrete Construction” report finds:

  • Building owners are increasingly seeking the reduction of embodied carbon emissions generated during construction and materials production.
  • Engineers and contractors are very familiar with the tools needed to track embodied carbon.
  • Advancements in green concrete exist to support these goals, their adoption beginning to penetrate the industry.

This increased scrutiny of carbon content across the private and public sectors will most certainly transform cement operations and the downstream concrete industries along with it.

Mark S. Kuhar, editor
[email protected]
(330) 722‐4081
Twitter: @editormarkkuhar

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