Lauren Concrete Brings Low-Carbon Concrete to Central Texas

Ronnie Klatt and his brother Ray founded Lauren Concrete in Austin in 1986. In the beginning, the Klatts had just one plant, a handful of employees, and a ton of ambition. 

Today, Lauren Concrete is the leading provider of ready mix concrete in Central Texas, with 24 plants and approximately 250 trucks serving this rapidly growing region.

Lauren Concrete prides itself on being a culture-centered organization—safety, world-class service, and innovation are top priorities. Over the past few years, Lauren Concrete has been quick to adopt new technologies to meet these priorities and deliver superior products and services to their customers.

With a history of innovation—from GPS tracking for fleet optimization to software for real-time quality monitoring—Lauren Concrete was eager to explore ways to deliver greener concrete.

In a recent webinar, Renée Drosche, Key Account Manager and Cory Miller, Quality Control Manager at Lauren Concrete described their experiences implementing CarbonCure in several of its Texas plants.

Meeting Austin’s Demand for Sustainable Construction Materials

The City of Austin is recognized as a leader in green building practices and is on track to become carbon neutral and have net-zero community-wide greenhouse gases by 2050. Currently, Austin requires that many building projects attain a Silver LEED building certification at a minimum.

“We looked at where the city was heading in terms of sustainability and felt that low-carbon concrete should be a focus for Lauren Concrete. It is very important for us to stay ahead of new technologies so when folks ask about them, we're already past our learning curve and ready to hit the ground running.” 

Renée Drosche, Key Account Manager and CarbonCure specialist, Lauren Concrete

Rigorous Testing and Evaluation

Lauren Concrete’s quality control ethos is that world-class concrete doesn’t happen by accident—it’s the result of the careful engineering of materials and processes. Naturally, the team has a rigorous testing process for any new mix ingredients.

Once CarbonCure was installed at Lauren’s pilot plant, the team tested its standard 3000, 4000, and 5000 psi (20.7, 27.6 and 34.5 MPa) mixes for various use cases. Approximately half of Lauren’s concrete volume is poured on residential projects, with 30-35% going to heavy commercial projects. The remainder is on specialty works like shotcrete and civil projects.

Cory admitted that he was wary of reducing cement content in his mix designs, but after seeing CarbonCure in action and reviewing the data, he was convinced. 

“We tested CarbonCure with cement and ash to see how reactive it would be. After that, we found our dosage rate,” said Cory.  “We are seeing significant strength increases from our standard control mix with CarbonCure, and I’m confident in reducing cement content by 6%. Even with this reduction we are still achieving over-design.”

Lauren’s customers were also pleased with the pumpability and finishability of the concrete which was an added bonus. “I was sold on CarbonCure after the strength testing. Hearing our customer testimonials that the wet concrete is the same or better just sold me even more,” said Cory.

Overcoming Objections

One of the first commercial trials with CarbonCure was at the University of Texas at Austin, where almost every project has sustainability requirements, including objectives for low-carbon concrete. Lauren was supplying the concrete for Spawglass, the general contractor on the project. 

The University’s project engineers had a lot of questions about CarbonCure. “There was some hesitancy from the engineers, but once you can get in front of them and have those conversations, there's really no reason not to buy into the product,” said Renée.

CarbonCure helps engineers meet owner-driven carbon reduction goals and aligns with SE2050—the Structural Engineers Institute’s mission to be carbon neutral by 2050.

“The main question from engineers is: do you have any data? We're able to show data on the mix designs and offer a tour of the plant to put them at ease,” said Cory. 

Since the beginning, Lauren Concrete has been in discussions with the City of Austin about including CarbonCure in its mix designs. The Department of Watershed Protection initially brought CarbonCure to the attention of the broader City team, and in 2019 the City of Austin passed two resolutions confirming their support for exploring the use of the technology for City-owned projects. The COVID-19 pandemic has understandably slowed the City’s efforts to conduct necessary testing, but the pace of change is a challenge.

“We didn’t anticipate this challenge because the city is so supportive of green initiatives. If we could change every yard of Class A concrete in the city of Austin to CarbonCure-based concrete, we’d reduce so much CO2,” said Renée.

Lauren Concrete recently invited city representatives to visit the plant to build confidence in the product and see how CarbonCure works. “We also offered to supply some concrete for sidewalks so the city can test it independently, without any input from us,” said Cory. 

The City continues to consider how it can adapt its existing specifications so that concrete made with CarbonCure can be used for municipal projects. 

Fun Fact: 1 Million Truckloads of CarbonCure Concrete

In December 2020, one of the Lauren Concrete trucks delivering concrete to the H-E-B Lake Austin project was the one-millionth truck of CarbonCure concrete delivered to a sustainable building project!

For this project, Lauren Concrete delivered 6,755 cubic yards (5,165 cubic metres) of concrete made with CarbonCure, diverting 160,500 pounds (73 tonnes) of CO2 from the atmosphere. That’s equivalent to 95 acres (38 hectares) of forest sequestering CO2 for a year. 

“We were proud to get the millionth truckload—I know producers all over the country wanted that,” said Renée.

The team used the event as an opportunity to create engaging marketing initiatives with H-E-B, a beloved grocery store chain in Austin that has ambitious sustainability goals. H-E-B is building two new stores and is very interested in continuing to work with Lauren’s CarbonCure-based mix designs.

“We were able to shift our focus from selling to the marketing team to selling to the actual construction team and showing them that the product is breaking higher and helps meet sustainability goals,” said Renée.

Expanding to More Plants in Central Texas

Lauren Concrete originally installed CarbonCure at four plants in Round Rock and Austin and has plans to expand across its three operating districts—Central, East, and West. 

The team is prioritizing the CarbonCure rollout based on fleet optimization. “When we don't have CarbonCure at certain plants, it makes us less efficient with our fleet. We’re prioritizing plants that are close to the locations that already have the technology so that we can run our entire fleet more optimally,” said Renée. 

According to Renee, bringing additional plants online takes just a few weeks and makes good business sense for Lauren Concrete.

“The combination of supply, operations, and cost efficiencies just makes it a no-brainer for us. We’ve had great feedback, and we have the data from our quality testing, so it just makes sense to put it everywhere,” said Renée.

For more information, watch the on-demand webinar Lauren Concrete’s Low-Carbon Success in Texas.

Find out why owners, architects, and structural engineers are specifying CarbonCure concrete by viewing our new brochure for designers and builders.

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