More on Concrete Talk from The Green Asia Group

Read - August 1, 2009

Carolyn Kenwrick, The GreenAsia Group

Roughly 5 to 10 percent of global CO2 emissions are related to the manufacture and transportation of cement, a major ingredient of concrete.

The manufacture of cement is considered worldwide as one of the world’s most energy intensive industries, and as such, is an industry that is increasingly being looked at to become more sustainable.

0.8 tonnes of CO2 are emitted for every tonne of cement produced. 0.4 tonnes are offset when the cement is mixed with water and absorbed, but the carbon footprint for 1 tonne of cement remains at 0.4 tonnes once used in construction.

“The manufacture of cement is relatively efficient when compared with other building materials, such as steel and wood. The problem is the scale at which it’s produced – roughly 2.4 billion tons in 2006 and growing.” Professor Franz-Josef Ulm Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass.

“The reality is that the geological availability, and global distribution, of suitable natural resources, coupled with the extensive validation needed to confirm fitness-for-purpose, make it highly unlikely that (eco-friendly) cements will a be realistic alternative for volume building.” British Cement Association

“In the UK the climate bill commits us to reduce CO2 emissions, and every sector should play its part. The construction industry needs to take greater responsibility for its own environmental impact.” Jonathan Essex, Bioregional, UK

The facts above, in an age when sustainability and environmental guardianship of the planet are becoming of paramount importance, have hastened the search for new building materials and ‘green’ concrete products.

The construction industry has the opportunity to take an active part in alleviating the worst effects of climate change.
Industry in general is working towards reductions in greenhouse gases because, put simply, it lowers costs.

The transportation sector is changing rapidly because of the fear of overpriced, increasingly scarce oil.

Architects, designers, builders can contribute their knowledge and skills toward making buildings as carbon-neutral as possible. Thus the hunt for new materials, and attention to looking at the carbon footprint

of a carefully designed building, one that puts environment at the top of its list.

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