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New Concrete With 40% Less Carbon Can Help You Hit Net Zero Targets


A pilot scheme backed by the UK government has found a way to cut emissions from one of the most carbon-intensive parts of the property development process — the production of concrete.

The pilot, backed by Innovate UK and the Ministry of Justice, found a way of creating precast concrete that emits 40% less carbon than standard production methods. The result is as much about the strategy behind concrete production as the materials used. 

Cement, one of the key ingredients in concrete, is responsible for about 8% of annual global carbon emissions, according to the think tank Chatham House. Therefore reducing the carbon footprint of concrete is a key part of the battle against climate change.

The Decarbonising Precast Concrete project brought together design-for-manufacture experts Akerlof, materials manufacturer Forterra, facade construction specialist PCE and 30 other expert contributors. Together, they examined every decision in the traditional method of building with precast materials through the lens of carbon, developing a new, whole-process approach.

The reduction in carbon was achieved, in part, by utilising lower carbon materials in the mix used to create the product. But project participants also examined other factors, such as which parts of a home might bear less weight and need less dense concrete, or where stronger concrete could be used to minimise steel, eliminating another big carbon emitter. 

Innovate UK said that the new concrete produced was commercially viable and would meet the standards required by regulators. It added the method could be used in commercial property sectors other than housebuilding, like student housing or build to rent.