Concrete is the most applied building material in the world and its carbon footprint is huge. But how can architects, engineers, contractors and developers incorporate concrete solutions in their building projects and at the same time meet the demand of “sustainable cities and communities”, adopted by state and government leaders in UN’s Sustainable Development Goals?
It is not any surprise that conventional concrete is known to have a major impact on the environment. The high carbon footprint is mainly caused by the great content of cement in conventional concrete, which is also the case for CRC i2®, which is our own generation of the concrete type Ultra High Performance Concrete (UHPC). This type of concrete contains significant more cement than conventional concrete – at least if you compare the materials pr. cubic meter. However, it does not make sense to compare the elements on a volume basis as the materials are used in completely different ways when producing elements. Instead we have used a more traditional way of comparing CRC i2® and conventional concrete by comparing the materials on the effective environmental footprint: How big of a environmental footprint does CRC i2® and conventional concrete actually leave when it is measured pr m2 balcony?
Ultra high performance concrete and its sustainable advantages
It is the amount of material that makes us able to state that our balconies leaves an environmental footprint that is 25% less than conventional concrete. When we produce our balconies at their factory we normally use 50% less material in our production of balconies compared to a similar element in conventional concrete. This is possible because of the extreme strength and density of our material, which means that we cast our elements with a very thin cover layer on the reinforcement.
The first EPD on UHPC in the world
Two years ago we stepped into the process of preparing an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD), which provided us with a detailed understanding of our environmental footprint from producing the balconies and till they are mounted on the building. The results revealed an environmental footprint of 1320 kg CO2 pr. cubic meter from production till mounting and 1050 kg CO2 pr. cubic meters until the elements leave the factory. This number is admittedly higher than the environmental footprint of 720 kg CO2 pr. cubic meter of conventional concrete, but as mentioned earlier, we only use half the amount of material pr. m2 balcony and therefore, oir effective environmental footprint for CRC i2® turns out to be only 525 kg CO2 – a saving of 25 % of the environmental footprint pr. unit until the element leaves the factory.
The less amount of material also results in more sustainable advantages like less consumption of raw materials as sand and gravel, slender elements with lower weight, which need smaller brackets on the building, smaller cranes during installation and fewer trucks for transportation. Furthermore, we can mention the long durability of 100+ years without any structural maintenance as a sustainable advantage.
UHPC in the future sustainable cities and communities
So, can the involved parties incorporate concrete elements in their building projects and at the same time meet the 11th world goal of “Sustainable cities and communities”? We believe that it is about carefully choosing your materials and suppliers and at the same time be aware that even smaller adjustments in production, transportation and mounting can contribute to the sustainable development.
If you would like to know more about UHPC and sustainability you can visit our highlights to find more information, documentation, and blogposts about the subject.