Reducing the carbon footprint of concrete

The production of 1 Tonne of Cement emits 1 tonne of CO2.
We demonstrated how to reduce this impact by half.

Concrete is the most common construction material used in the world. Cement is the principal ingredient in concrete. Producing one tonne of cement emits about one tonne of CO2 resulting from fuel combustion and the calcination of limestone.

Cement manufacturing is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for 8% of global CO2 emissions.

Cement can be partially replaced in the concrete mix by “Supplementary Cementing Materials” (SCMs) to produce a material with the same or better properties (strength, durability).
Usual SCMs are: fly ash – a byproduct of coal-fired power plants, slag – a residue of steel production, or silica fume. SCM are widely available around the world and are deemed have low or no carbon footprint.

Standard concrete mix
Concrete with SCM

Each tonne of cement replaced by SCM reduces GHG emission by one tonne. The less Portland cement, the better. But this goal has to be placed in the context of the construction industry: from the engineer, the performance and safety of the concrete structure is paramount; for the contractor, the ease and speed of installation is a key economic factor; and for the manufacturer known performance and liability are critical concerns.

Hence the EcoSmart Concrete objectives: Optimizing the amount of SCM in concrete while maintaining or improving performance, cost and constructability.

Maximizing the replacement of Portland cement in the concrete mix with high volume of supplementary cementing materials (HVSCM) minimize the carbon footprint of concrete. We demonstrated in successive steps that it can be done while maintaining or improving cost, performance, and constructability.

  • EcoSmart Concrete: Multiple cases studies in BC and Canada to demonstrate the feasibility of HVSCM and improve scientific, technical and practical knowledge of its use in a wide-range of applications.
  • SOS: A software tool to optimize the use of High Volume Supplementary Cementing Material (HVSCM).
  • UAE: Transferring High HVSCM Technology to the Emirates, a project supported by Canada.
  • China: Transferring HVSCM knowledge to China, a project under the Asia-Pacific Partnership (AP7).

43 Case Studies in 5 countries

Case studies with HVSCM