How a Family-Run Concrete Producer Gained First-Mover Advantage with Sustainable Concrete

Iowa City Ready Mix is a single-plant, family-run concrete producer serving Iowa City, Coralville, North Liberty, Solon, and the surrounding Iowa communities. For almost 60 years, Iowa City Ready Mix has taken pride in its ability to innovate to meet customer needs at affordable prices and with great service.

Joining the Green Construction Movement in Iowa

In response to the growing green movement in Iowa, Iowa City Ready Mix continued on its innovative path to become the first producer in the state to adopt carbon utilization technology / sustainable concrete and reduce the amount of cement in its concrete mixes.

“I always knew that Iowa City was big on trying to be as green as possible, so I’ve always tried to look for ways we can reduce our carbon footprint around here,” said Matt Knepper, General Manager of Iowa City Ready Mix.

Following a request for CarbonCure concrete from McComas-Lacina Construction—the largest locally-owned general contractor in the Iowa City area—Iowa City Ready Mix explored CarbonCure’s technology. 

The team soon realized that with CarbonCure, a small change to production would not only minimize the company’s environmental impact but reduce costs as well—and of course, they’d still be able to deliver the same high-quality product their customers are used to.

Iowa is a highly competitive market to operate in and CarbonCure presented a great opportunity to gain a competitive advantage, especially as a smaller producer.

“There’s a lot of competition in Iowa City so trying to get an edge on the market was really a key idea,” said Matt.

Seamless and Quick Implementation 

During the summer of 2020, despite the disruptions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Iowa City Ready Mix implemented CarbonCure technology at its plant. The CarbonCure team worked hands-on with the Iowa City Ready Mix team to help in three key areas: software integration, electrical, and plumbing. 

After testing, the Iowa City Ready Mix team found that by reducing cementitious content by 3% and adding in 0.1% CO2, the mix exceeded the 4000 psi required strength at seven days. “That pretty much justified in my mind that the technology works,” said Matt. 

The team tested the same mix with a 5% reduction and, when this also passed the seven-day strength test, they began adding CO2 into mixes for projects that were not restricted by prescriptive specifications.

Installation and testing went smoothly—despite the added pandemic-related challenges—and the CarbonCure dosage ramp process began within a month. 

Prepping the build site for sustainable concrete

Success in the Field with Sustainable Concrete

Since the rollout in June 2020, Iowa City Ready Mix has poured CarbonCure concrete for a range of commercial and residential projects including house foundations, walls, underground parking garages, driveways, and sidewalks. Current projects include apartment complexes and condo buildings—all of which now benefit from a reduced embodied carbon footprint.

In every instance, mixes produced with CarbonCure met the specifications requested by the engineers. And, alongside meeting strength and performance requirements, the team has reported back positively on the workability of the concrete.

In a region increasingly focused on reducing emissions, Iowa City Ready Mix made an important commitment to sustainability and innovation when it partnered with CarbonCure. In the first five months, Iowa City Ready Mix delivered more than 2,200 truckloads of CarbonCure concrete. This saved over 5,900 pounds (2,600 kilograms) of carbon dioxide (CO2) from entering the atmosphere—that is the equivalent of 249 acres of forest absorbing CO2 for a year.

After successfully—and rapidly—implementing the technology, the company is in a strong position to capture a greater market share and continue to achieve substantial carbon reductions in the years to come.

For more information, download the
Iowa City Ready Mix Success Story.

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