The Australian concrete industry plays an important role in society. Not only does it underpin the development of Australia’s physical infrastructure, it also employs approximately 30,000 people and contributes AUD $15 billion (USD $11.6 billion) to Australia’s GDP.
Recently, some players in the Australian concrete industry have been playing another vital role: driving sustainability initiatives to help Australia meet its key emissions targets:
- 5% below 2000 levels by 2020 (under the Kyoto Protocol)
- 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2030 (under the Paris Agreement)
This blog post highlights the efforts of four Australian concrete producers leading the way in sustainable concrete production.
Boral Reduced Scope 1 and 2 Emissions in Australia by 44%
Since 2005, Boral has reduced Scope 1 and 2 emissions in Australia by 44% by moving away from emissions-intensive businesses and reducing clinker manufacturing in Australia. Today, Boral’s carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions are 29% below its 2012 levels.
A true leader in concrete sustainability, Boral is among the first producers in Australia to publish an environmental product declaration (EPD). The EPD helps Boral’s customers make decisions informed by externally verified transparent and comparable information about the life-cycle environmental impact of a range of concrete products.
Boral also publishes an annual Sustainability Report which holds it accountable to its sustainability commitments and offers a transparent overview of its progress to date.
BGC Concrete Delivers Low-Carbon Concrete to Western Australia
Other sustainability practices include the use of water reducers and super plasticisers to maximise water efficiency while retaining the quality concrete BGC is known for.
BGC Concrete also uses six concrete recyclers to recover coarse and fine aggregates and water from returned concrete and the waste water from truck washouts. As a result, 50% of the water used in the GreenStar Concrete products is reclaimed or recycled.
HY-TEC Concrete’s Commitment to Sustainable Development
The company’s commitment to sustainable development is evident in its everyday operations. Like BGC, HY-TEC captures and reuses waste water in its concrete manufacturing process. The company also has a recycling program that exports excess concrete waste to external manufacturing facilities to be used in other applications.
To support sustainable development, the company uses fly ash, ground granulated blast furnace slag, bottom ash, air-cooled slag aggregates, recycled water, and concrete aggregates in its environmental concrete mix designs.
Holcim Australia Leads the Way in Environmental Transparency
Holcim is challenging views on environmental sustainability by supporting the standardisation and transparency of environmental claims. It was the first concrete company in Australia to publish an EPD for its ready mix concrete products, ViroDecs, and the first in the world to publish a reinforced concrete pipe EPD. The EPDs are independently verified and registered by EPD Australasia and the International EPD System.
In addition to its work on EPDs, Holcim’s most recent projects have had aggressive carbon reduction targets. For example, the Basement Barangaroo South project is targeting a 6 Star Green Star Design, as-built v1.1 certification, and a 20% embodied carbon reduction commitment.
The Path Forward for Australian Concrete is Green
Because of its economic importance and growth trajectory, the Australian construction industry will continue to play a key role in society. The industry as a whole will also be tasked with following the lead of the concrete producers highlighted in this post when it comes to sustainable building practices.
Buildings account for 25% of Australia's carbon emissions and half of all buildings that will be standing by 2050 have yet to be built. As a result, governments are mobilising to put policy in place for more sustainable construction.
The City of Melbourne’s Climate Change Mitigation Strategy is just one example of this. The strategy aims to reduce the environmental impact and embodied emissions from products, materials, and buildings across the city through procurement, urban design, and planning.
The bottom line is that the future of Australian construction is green.
There are many new technologies available to help the construction industry reduce the operational carbon in the buildings they’re constructing as well as the embodied carbon in the construction process itself.
Concrete presents a great opportunity to move the needle on embodied carbon as there are many new innovations available to reduce embodied carbon without negatively affecting fresh or hardened properties.
As well as commonly used SCMs, carbon utilization is gaining traction among concrete producers around the world as a way to reduce carbon while also boosting profitability by reducing cement requirements.
Carbon dioxide (CO₂) utilization technology uses CO₂ sourced from local industrial emitters to reduce the carbon-intensive cementitious content in concrete. CarbonCure is one such technology that is now available to producers across Australia through authorised distributor CE Construction Solutions.
CarbonCure's technology injects a precise dose of CO₂ into concrete mixes, where it chemically converts into a mineral that is permanently embedded within the concrete. Compressive strength is maintained even while the cement content in the mix is reduced, minimizing the overall carbon footprint of the concrete.
As a result of innovations like CarbonCure, Australian concrete producers can offer low-carbon concrete solutions and gain a distinct competitive advantage when bidding on the increasing number of projects with sustainability requirements.
To learn more about low-carbon concrete production, please contact us.