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How ConcreteZero Reduces Carbon Emissions Through Sustainable Concrete Production

Out of concern for the continued impact that concrete production has on the planet, the ConcreteZero initiative was born.
concrete production

Concrete is the second most consumed material on earth. The production of concrete accounts for 8% of overall global carbon emissions. Because concrete is paramount in the foundational integrity of entire cities being built each day, the output of carbon emissions from its production will only continue to climb unless there’s a concerted effort put forward for a solution. The concrete industry recognizes this major environmental issue and wants to curb the wide-scale effect on the environment. Out of concern for the continued impact that concrete production has on the planet, the ConcreteZero initiative was born, and Equipment Trader is taking a closer look how it’s changing the construction landscape.

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What Is ConcreteZero?

ConcreteZero is a global initiative co-founded by Buro Happold, a UK-based private company made up of consulting engineers and advisors. The hope for the ConcreteZero initiative is to cut in half carbon emissions from concrete production by 2030 by developing sustainable production methods and sourcing of materials.

ConcreteZero was launched in July of 2022 as part of a joint initiative between the Climate Group, the World Green Building Council, and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. The primary goal of ConcreteZero is to transition global production of low-emission concrete to 30% by 2025 and 50% by 2030. By the year 2050, the goal is to have transitioned all concrete production to a 100% low-emissions process.

A Groundbreaking Idea

In November 2022, the Concrete Society’s Awards for Excellence in Concrete recognized Buro Happold’s London College of Fashion project for the University of Arts London and its effort to reduce carbon emissions related to concrete production during construction. One solution involved prefabrication whenever possible to ensure the quality of the concrete used in production. 

The initial goal was to minimize onsite risk, and their efforts to reduce emissions resulted in two-thirds of the structural framework being created offsite. This earned Buro Happold praise from the Concrete Society judges for demonstrating a commitment to quality while focusing on sustainable production methods. After completion, the Fashion College proved successful, and Buro Happold embarked on the initiative of co-founding ConcreteZero.

Low-Carbon Concrete

ConcreteZero is committed to supporting high quality infrastructure production, which uses a great deal more concrete than the construction process of a single building or complex. In fact, this is where most of the carbon emissions from concrete originate. Building highways, tunnels, and bridges requires more material than individual building projects, and leaves a major impact on the environment through climate change.

Buro Happold’s aim is to better understand sustainable options that are available by meeting with clients and contractors while utilizing low-carbon concrete mixes. This can be accomplished through the use of concretes that have a longer curing process, or the process of maintaining satisfactory temperature and moisture conditions in the setting and hardening of concrete. This reduces the overall volume of concrete that is used in the completion of projects. More agencies have joined the ConcreteZero initiative and hope to continue developing low-carbon alternatives to the traditional production methods behind concrete.

Teaming Up For Cleaner Concrete

The low-carbon concrete initiative has brought in some heavy hitters who are committed to supporting its continued success. One person who has shown particular interest and enthusiasm in the ConcreteZero initiative is Los Angeles Laker legend Rick Fox. Fox built a home in the Bahamas with an alternative concrete that pulls CO2 out of the atmosphere. He believes that the construction of homes with this material will aid efforts to slow climate change. 

As CEO and co-founder of sustainable building materials startup Partanna, he has set a goal to build at least 99 more of these homes in the Bahamas. If this building initiative proves successful, Partanna hopes to make its alternative concrete building material available globally, and in doing so, reduce the overall pollution created by construction. Those working to develop concrete alternatives see cement as the major environmental stressor, adding to the emissions that create ideal conditions for wildfires, major storms, and other catastrophic events related to climate change.

Although they remain tightlipped about the process of creating their mixture, Fox and his business partner, California-based architect Sam Marshall, revealed that the main ingredients are brine from desalination plants as well as slag, a byproduct of steel production. They forewent cement as an ingredient, which removes CO2 emissions created from that process from the equation. Creating cement requires materials to be heated to extreme temperatures in a kiln. This process creates a chemical reaction that releases additional CO2 from limestone. The Partanna mixture cures at ambient temperatures, which requires far less energy, and the binding ingredients absorb CO2 and trap it in the material, where it remains even if the structure is demolished. This dismantled material can then be reused for more projects.

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Building A Better Future

The ConcreteZero initiative, along with innovators like Partanna, saw a need for environmentally conscious methods of concrete production and a call for eco-friendly alternatives. The success of the methods show potential to reduce environmental impact and perhaps even reverse damage that was once thought to be permanent. As other companies join these initiatives, the development of future infrastructure might play a role in positively impacting the fight against climate change.

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By Anna Tozzi


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Anna Cecilia Tozzi
Anna Cecilia Tozzi
Anna is a Virginia-based writer with a background in business. Although her initial writing experience was in satire, her love of research and learning about new subjects has given her the opportunity to write on numerous topics. When she’s not writing, Anna enjoys taking her camera out and capturing pictures of the world around her.

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