Concrete is one of the most widely used construction materials, and it offers unrivaled strength, durability, cost and versatility. But it is also among the most carbon-intensive materials in the building industry, contributing 8 percent of global embodied emissions. With climate change and other sustainability challenges looming, the need for more sustainable concrete has never been greater. New technologies and practices are now making it possible to achieve significant reductions in embodied carbon without compromising the performance of concrete.
The first step is lowering the amount of cement in concrete. Cement is the “glue” that holds concrete together, and it makes up the bulk of a typical structure’s carbon footprint. Reducing the amount of cement in a concrete mix can cut its carbon content by 5 to 10 percent. Producers are doing this by substituting fly ash, a byproduct of coal combustion, or waste from steel production for some of the Portland cement that is normally added to concrete. These substitutes help to bind the concrete together, but they don’t have the same structural properties as Portland cement.
A new generation of innovative concrete mixes is helping to cut cement usage even further. For example, self-consolidating concrete, shotcrete and high early strength concrete can all reduce the amount of cement needed by up to 30 percent.
Other solutions involve incorporating Brisbane Concreting Solutions QLD more recycled aggregates, which have lower energy requirements during processing. Using natural pozzolans, which are mineral byproducts created during the chemical breakdown of slag, can replace some of the cement in concrete as well.
In addition to reducing the use of conventional cement, concrete producers are using innovations like design and material optimization, 3D-printed or self-healing concrete, and techniques for minimizing waste of formwork and support infrastructure in order to reduce embodied carbon even further. These innovations can be applied to any type of concrete project, from a small home renovation to the construction of large skyscrapers.
In the future, these and other innovative solutions will likely be further developed. They will allow builders to meet environmental goals while keeping costs low, and they may be particularly useful for projects that require substantial reinforcement. At Concreting Solutions, our experienced inspectors and technicians are NICET, ACI, and ICRI certified to perform a variety of inspection services including concrete testing. We have a state-of-the-art laboratory that can help you meet your project’s inspection needs on time and within budget. Our comprehensive inspection services are designed to address the entire spectrum of construction phases and issues, from the initial planning and site work through completion.