A Systemic Shift to Net-Zero Concrete – 4 Examples of Innovative and Sustainable Concrete and Related Tech in Action

As concerns about global warming and climate change continue to make headlines, nearly every industry has been pressured to amend its historical practices to combat these issues. The AEC industry is no different – as an increasing number of companies develop Sustainability Reports and ESG Commitments, low-carbon or eco-friendly sustainable concrete tends to be a common solution to work toward net-zero targets. Whether it be legacy players evolving their offerings or startups trying to disrupt the space, the industry is seeing more sustainable concrete solutions than ever before. The question remains if these solutions are here to stay or if companies will revert to the tried and true traditional concrete they’ve used for nearly 200 years.

Benefits of Low-Carbon Concrete

Low-carbon concrete has a nice ring to it and looks good on paper, but what are the tangible benefits of using it? The process of producing concrete as well as cement creates carbon dioxide; Inside Climate News reported that roughly 1,370 pounds of CO2 are produced for every metric ton of cement manufactured. Considering traditional cement’s negative impact, alternative solutions are welcome with open arms. Below are some of the benefits that influence a transition.

  • Carbon Capture
  • Improved Strength/Decreased Corrosion
  • Reduce Greenhouse Gasses
  • Energy Savings

Despite the advantages, more often than not low-carbon concrete comes with considerably higher initial costs to produce and longer cure times than traditional concrete. However, if it proves beneficial in limiting global warming to 1.5°C, it isn’t out of the question to see further adoption moving forward.

Eco-Friendly Concrete and Tech Solutions in Action

  1. Using Holcim’s high-quality recycling concrete, Zephyr Ost in the Tech Cluster Zug, in Switzerland. Zephyr Ost was the largest construction project in Switzerland made with climate-friendly concrete to date. The project helped capture CO2 and store it permanently and safely in demolished concrete to pave the way toward a net-zero future.
  2. TITAN Cement Group has been selected to use lower-carbon cement to build a high-speed and electrified main rail line in Egypt. The rail will connect Cairo to the New Administrative Capital and surrounding cities.
  3. Tarmac (a CRH company) unveiled a battery-electric concrete e-mixer. The e-mixer will generate zero tailpipe emissions, be charged using clean energy, and accelerate the industry’s transition to net zero.
  4. Converge bends the cost and carbon curves simultaneously, enabling you to pioneer the use of ultra-low carbon and cement-free concrete at scale. Converge uses AI and data from its state-of-the-art sensors to measure concrete strength and structural health. See their collection of case studies here.

Ones to Watch

  1. ECOncrete Tech – bio-enhancing concrete technology brings biodiversity, carbon storage, and superior structural performance to any concrete marine infrastructure.
  2. Prometheus – they grow an organic biocomposite that has the qualities of concrete but without carbon.