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Building a path to low-carbon construction

Low carbon consruction

The construction industry is coming under increasing pressure to use ‘low carbon’ alternatives to cement and steel writes International Construction, which explores how this new construction reality might be achieved.

Cement is a particular area of focus and manufacturers are investing billions developing lower carbon alternatives. 

For example, Swiss-based LafargeHolcim is increasing the use of calcined clay and developing novel cements with new binders. Manufacturer Cemex has introduced new types of clinker, which it says cut emissions by up to 30 percent at some of its cement works.

Steel manufacturers are investigating novel ways to cut their carbon footprints, too. These include capturing and using the carbon that’s created during steel production and using electrolysis to turn iron ore into steel.

A recent report by a coalition of the world’s biggest cities estimates that emissions generated from producing the cement, steel and rubber used in construction make up 60 percent of a building’s total emissions.

By switching to greener versions and improving efficiency, lifetime emissions could be reduced 44 percent by 2050.

International Construction reports that using low carbon construction materials still comes with disadvantages. Low carbon materials can often be more expensive and tougher to source. Plus, it can be difficult for construction firms to get approval to use them.

Within this context – and as some of the world’s poorest countries continue to urbanise – it’s expected that cement production with rise between 12 and 23 percent by the middle of the century. That’s according to a report by the International Energy Agency.

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