Sustainable concrete wont save us #2

By Steve Austin

Another article, of which I expect to see a lot more of, in which the emissions truth of concrete – we can no longer use the stuff in a below zero carbon world – is attempted to be balanced by expressions of our absolute need for that very same stuff.

First the setup:  “If the cement industry were a country, it would be the third largest emitter in the world.”

Then the need:  “Cement use is set to rise as global urbanization and economic development increases demand for new buildings and infrastructure” 

Then the bargaining (with data from the Cement Industry):  “Three of these are the strategies previously being pursued by the cement industry to limit emissions, namely, improved energy efficiency, lower-emission fuels and lower clinker ratios.”  A fourth strategy is “novel” concrete, playing around with technology.  The article doesn’t cover it in much detail, as it offers little chance of scaling.

Finally, the truth- as even the Industry admits: “The roadmap also sets out a “beyond 2C” scenario (B2DS; purple dotted line above), whereby a far higher 60% reduction in emissions would be required. Here, the proportion of total cement CO2 emissions captured by CCS would need to more than double compared to the 2C scenario, up to 63% in 2050, the roadmap says. It notes this ‘will be challenging to achieve’.”

Bottom line:  we think we can’t live without concrete, but we can’t live with it either.  Quite the conundrum.  The solution is for designers to reimagine everything related to design and construction without concrete.

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