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  • Ashlyn Halstead

Cement-Concrete on the Road to Carbon Neutrality

America’s cement manufacturers have committed to the goal of reaching carbon neutrality throughout the cement-concrete-construction value chain by 2050. To reach this goal, it will require combining actions across the supply chain.

Cement is the first – and critical – ingredient in all concrete infrastructure. Concrete provides the foundation for the nation’s built environment through structures that can withstand the extreme weather events that accompany climate change. This includes the roads, runways, bridges, buildings, waterways, and more that we rely on every day.

Currently, based on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) carbon emissions data, the manufacture of cement accounts for 1.25% of U.S. CO2 emissions – with demand projected to increase, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to set a global example on building sustainably, utilizing new approaches, and advocating for updated technology.

The cement and concrete industry have developed a Roadmap outlining the opportunities and actions to reach carbon neutrality. The Roadmap involves the entire value chain, starting at the cement plant and extending through the entire life cycle of the built environment to incorporate the circular economy. This approach to carbon neutrality leverages relationships at each step of the value chain, demonstrating to the world that this industry can address climate change with ambition and audacity.

The five links in the value chain include the production of clinker, the manufacture and shipment of cement, the production of concrete, the construction of the built environment, and the capture of carbon dioxide using concrete as a carbon sink.

Each link identifies specific targets, timelines, and technologies to reach the goal of carbon neutrality. The approach in this Roadmap leverages each step of the value chain from the farthest upstream to the final reuse and recycling phase. Cement and concrete manufacturers do not control every link in the value chain, but the Roadmap provides direction and incentives.

Ready Mixed Concrete Progress and Plan:

Based on Industry Wide EPD

  • 21% Reduction from 2014-2022

  • 50% Reduction by 2030*

  • 100% Reduction by 2050*

*baseline of 2014

In the near-term the focus is to replace raw materials with recycled materials, produce low-carbon cement blends and optimize designs for lowest life cycle emissions. The mid-term plan is to increase the use of alternate fuels and use renewable energy. The long-term plan includes carbon capture and introduction of new cement blends.

Reaching this goal will take all across out industry to be on board. To read more about concrete sustainability check out this article written by our VP of Concrete Operations, Steve Friess.

"Considering its resilience and sustainability benefits, concrete is well positioned to address the planet's climate change concerns." -Steve Friess

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