There are few materials that are as ubiquitous as concrete—or that cause as much environmental consternation. Concrete is one of the construction industry’s largest carbon emitters, responsible for about 5% to 8% of the world’s anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, yet it is also one of the most important building materials, used in even the most sustainable buildings for foundations, floors, walls, and more. The green building community may collectively gnash its teeth at its use, but there are few materials that can compete with concrete’s performance and versatility.
There are well-proven ways to reduce concrete’s carbon footprint, such as replacing portland cement with fly ash, but for years design teams have lacked the material innovations, policy advancements, and experience that would allow for the widespread, scalable reductions the industry needs to meet aggressive carbon goals. That is changing.
There are now viable low-carbon concrete options for almost all end uses as well as strategies that can work to reduce a building’s overall concrete carbon footprint. Can you get these into your next job? This report explores low-carbon concrete opportunities that currently exist as well as some that are on the horizon.