We recently attended the annual American Institute of Architects conference in San Francisco where low-carbon concrete was the topic of many conversations. Architects and builders are turning to this innovative material to help their clients reach their green building and sustainable building goals. According to the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction, together, building operations and construction now account for nearly 40% of global energy-related CO2 emissions. By utilizing low-carbon solutions we can dramatically reduce the carbon footprint while also enjoying benefits such as increased durability and improved insulation capabilities. In this blog, we cover the benefits and environmental impacts of low-carbon concrete as well as how municipalities and architects are incorporating it into building projects.

The basics of low-carbon concrete

Low-carbon concrete is an innovative material that has the potential to revolutionize the construction industry. This type of concrete is not only more durable and better insulated than traditional concrete, but it also reduces energy bills and can reduce a building’s carbon footprint significantly. It is made from a combination of materials such as fly ash, slag, and silica fumes which replace some or all of the traditional cement in the mix. The specific mixture used will depend on factors like desired strength levels and application requirements.

Low-carbon concrete differs from traditional concrete in several ways. 

  • It typically requires less energy to produce and has lower embodied carbon than traditional cement-based concrete. 
  • It produces fewer greenhouse gasses during production due to its reduced need for cement. 
  • It can be designed to have improved properties such as greater strength, increased temperature resistance, longer life span, and better insulation capabilities than traditional concrete.

There are various methods that companies can use to reduce the carbon emissions associated with producing low-carbon concrete. One way is to use recycled aggregate when producing ready mix or precast products. This reduces raw material needs while still providing a strong end product.

Using alternative binders such as calcium chloride can increase compressive strength while reducing environmental impacts associated with production processes like kilning or grinding limestone into cement clinker. And using industrial byproducts like blast furnace slag or steel slags in place of cement can help reduce emissions during production without sacrificing performance.

Benefits of using low-carbon concrete

The use of low-carbon concrete has quickly become a popular choice for builders and developers looking to reduce their environmental impact while saving money. Not only does it offer superior durability and insulation, but its production process also requires fewer resources than traditional cement. By utilizing alternative materials and recycled aggregate, businesses can reduce their carbon emissions while creating stronger, longer-lasting structures that are more efficient to operate. Low-carbon concrete is an effective way to save money on construction costs while helping the environment at the same time.

Environmental impacts of low-carbon concrete

The use of low-carbon concrete can provide a substantial reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and carbon dioxide levels. By utilizing alternative binders production processes become more efficient. This helps to conserve water usage during construction while creating stronger and longer-lasting structures that require less energy for heating and cooling over the lifetime of the building. In addition to these environmental benefits, businesses and governments can save on construction costs due to increased durability.

How to incorporate low-carbon concrete into a building project

Incorporating low-carbon concrete into a building project is an important step for reducing environmental impact and achieving cost savings. To ensure success, it is essential to understand the product specifications and associated environmental impacts of the various types of low-carbon concrete available and the green codes applicable to your municipality. At ID360 we work with municipalities and architects to ensure project specifications meet or exceed the green codes.

The future of low-carbon concrete is looking increasingly bright. Low-carbon concrete can be used as part of an overall sustainability strategy in green building projects with beneficial impacts on both the environment (reduced emissions) and economics (cost savings). To learn more about low-carbon concrete as a sustainable building solution check out our Fundamentals of Sustainable Design and Construction course offered through ID360 Academy