All over the world, governments, industries and corporations look to 2050 as the year to achieve carbon neutrality.
More specifically, carbon neutrality is top-of-mind for many in the construction industry. And that’s good, since, according to the World Economic Forum, it accounts for 38% of global emissions. Worldwide, construction companies create another Paris every week.
What is the #1 industrial product produced by humanity every year? The answer is concrete – an estimated 10 billion cubic yards worth, weighing 20 billion tons. Unfortunately, this production comes at a price – roughly 2 billion tons of GHG emissions. Governments and industry insiders target these excess emissions in the ongoing quest for carbon neutrality.
According to McKinsey, global construction accounts for about a quarter of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Concrete is a significant contributor. It accounts for 4.5 percent of global GHG emissions and 7.0 percent of CO₂ emissions.
When it comes to carbon emissions, calcination in cement kilns remains the industry’s greatest challenge. First, fossil fuels remain the primary source of the extreme heat required. Second, the decarbonization of limestone releases large amounts of carbon dioxide.
One way to address concrete’s sustainability goals is to craft it to serve multiple masters. To a significant degree, it already does. For example, thanks to carbonation, exposed concrete meets structural needs while also serving as a carbon sink.
In October 2021, the Portland Cement Association released its Roadmap to Carbon Neutrality. The 38-page report outlines a comprehensive plan to make the industry's value chain carbon neutral by 2050. In January 2022, PCA further promoted the plan at the 2022 World of Concrete in Las Vegas.
3D printing using concrete or mortar formulations is also referred to as 3-Dimensional Concrete Printing (3DPC). Some refer to it as Building Additive Manufacturing (BAM). 3DPC involves extruding mortar or concrete through a nozzle, layer by layer. Advances in nozzle design allow for on-the-fly smoothing or texturing of walls.
All eyes are on greener cements that reduce emissions. Any gain ripples across a very large global concrete industry. Global cement production was 4.1 billion tons in 2020, up from 1.39 billion tons 25 years earlier. China accounts for 2.2 billion tons of the total. India’s annual production is 340 million tons. There are more than 2,000 active cement plants around the world.
Global carbon removal goals are important yet daunting. One estimate suggests that “By 2050, the world must remove ten gigatons of CO2 per year.” That’s more than the current annual emissions of the United States. Excess carbon dioxide not only warms the atmosphere, it also increases ocean acidity. Atmospheric events grow more extreme, and marine ecosystems suffer.
A holistic approach to sustainable paving is ideal. Analysts increasingly look at a road’s entire lifecycle when calculating its carbon footprint. It is important to consider everything from the acquisition of aggregates and binders to the eventual recycling of road materials.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), construction and demolition (C&D) waste totaled 600 million tons in 2018. Demolition accounted for about 90% of the total, while construction accounted for about 10%. 455 million tons of C&D debris went to “next use.” 145 million tons went to landfills.
Concrete offers an unbeatable combination of resiliency, versatility and price. It can be cast into endless shapes. It is integral to almost every new commercial and residential building. Those buildings will continue to proliferate worldwide. In fact, one estimate suggests the number of buildings worldwide doubling by 2060. That’s the equivalent of building another New York City every month — for the next 40 years!
“The best investment you can make is in yourself.” While successful businessman Warren Buffet has no known experience working with concrete, his words of wisdom prove to be true, as increasing your personal value is important to your career, no matter the industry.
Merge the words “concrete” and “graphene,” and you get “concretene.” This newer building material also merges something very old with something very new. Concrete has been around for thousands of years. Graphene was first discovered in 2004.
What constitutes three-fourths of all the known matter in the universe? Hydrogen! It is abundant on the earth’s surface as well. Hydrogen and oxygen atoms combine to form the water that covers 71% of the Earth’s surface.
Innovative residential and commercial ICF designs continue to win awards across the country. Draft-free continuous insulation is a major advantage. Resiliency is another. ICF walls withstand some of the most forceful assaults by Mother Nature.
Calcination accounts for a significant percentage of concrete’s total carbon footprint. According to the Global Carbon Project, heating up limestone accounts for about four percent of global CO2 emissions. In early 2021, Northwestern University researchers released a comprehensive carbon reduction plan. It seeks net-zero emissions for the concrete industry by 2050.
Global greenhouse gas emissions were consistent for the first four decades of the 20th century. Today’s levels are about 10 times that. According to the EPA, 65 percent of these emissions come from fossil fuels and industrial processes.
During the pandemic, overcapacity made the cement industry vulnerable to a sudden drop in demand. Covid's impact on the industry is the subject of an International Finance Corporation (IFC) report. Some regions proved more resilient than others.
Insulated concrete form (ICF) structures are low-maintenance, energy-efficient and long lasting. ICFs have been used to build structures as high as 22 stories. When it comes to home construction, interest only accelerates in an era of high lumber prices.
In 2015, XPrize announced a five-year, $20 million carbon removal competition. It sought to spur innovative technologies that reduce atmospheric carbon. In April, 2021, XPrize announced two winners. CarbonBuilt and CarbonCure would split the $15 million first place money. Semifinalists shared in the remaining $5 million.
Soaring lumber prices drive new interest in insulated concrete form (ICF) construction. architects and designers take a closer look at ICFs for residential construction. They specify ICFs for below-grade foundations, above-grade exterior walls and interior walls.
More than a decade ago, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act gave a boost to wind and solar. Now, relevant provisions of the 2020 Omnibus Spending Bill may help to do the same for carbon capture.
Two decades into the 21st century, almost everyone in the construction industry looks for ways to be more sustainable. Demonstration projects focus attention on what is possible. One example is a new low-carbon "House of Tomorrow" in France. This project shows how to reduce carbon emissions throughout the structure’s lifecycle.
LC3 is a low-carbon alternative to ordinary Portland cement (OPC). It is also an increasingly practical option. In LC3, calcined clay (CC) and limestone reduce the reliance on energy-intensive clinker.
School districts have chosen ICF construction for more than two decades. They look to insulated concrete forms for energy savings, resilience and more. Now, two ICF school projects are among the recipients of the 2021 ICF Builder Awards. They are Granbury High School in Texas and Roy Junior High School in Utah.
It is a basic axiom of environmental stewardship. When possible, use old stuff to make new stuff. The same is true with concrete aggregates. Mixes are more sustainable when recycled concrete aggregate (RCA) replaces natural aggregates, at least to a degree.
Since 1990, global concrete industry emissions are down 19.2 percent per ton. This is according to the Global Cement and Concrete Association. Its 2050 “Climate Ambition” seeks carbon-neutral concrete.
ICF schools deliver a unique combination of structural strength and construction efficiency. Exterior ICF walls deliver code-compliant drainage planes and air sealing. They save copious amounts of energy via continuous insulation, thermal mass and no thermal bridging. ICFs are also fire resistant and mold resistant. As if all that is not enough, ICFs minimize sound transmission as well.
When you think of a wall built from insulated concrete forms (ICFs), you may picture a linear design. This is understandable. The majority of ICF walls are just that. The idea of a curved ICF design may seem a bit counter-intuitive, at least at first. However, ICF radius forms are readily available. Some contractors fashion curved walls from straight ICF forms as well.
ICF residential construction is more and more attractive. ICF construction is the antidote to concerns about mold, mildew, wood rot and insects. Homeowners appreciate the peace-of-mind that concrete walls deliver. Concrete resists threats posed by high winds, wildfires and earth tremors. Maintenance costs are low to non-existent. Resilience and thermal mass reduce the environmental footprint of a structure.
Architects, designers and engineers see the benefits of ICF construction. These include safety, energy savings and longevity. For many projects, a cost-benefit analysis of ICFs is more persuasive than ever.
In 2004, graphene was first isolated by researchers at the UK’s University of Manchester. Professors Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov received a Nobel Prize for their efforts. Pure crystalline graphene is a wonder material a single atom thick. The 2D material is a million times thinner than a human hair.
Ton for ton, Portland Limestone Cement (PLC) performs much like ordinary Portland cement (OPC). Tests show that strength, durability and resilience are comparable. What is different is the 10 percent reduction in carbon emissions. The use of SCMs like fly ash or slag reduces a project’s carbon footprint even further.
Imagine the strength and durability of concrete. Now imagine that it bends - enough, at least, to absorb shock and reduce cracking. Bendable concrete intrigues researchers for many reasons. The possibilities for its use are many.
Every year, hurricanes, tornadoes and winds from strong thunderstorms damage properties nationwide. There are fears that there will be more storms, and more severe storms, in the future. Through it all, there’s an overarching desire to keep people safe and secure with concrete. Going forward, concrete’s inherent mass and strength will only grow more attractive.
Recent code updates address building safety, durability and sustainability. Architects often design with concrete to deliver code compliance. The longer life cycles and reduced maintenance of concrete structures enhance sustainability.
CCUS is an acronym you'll hear more about in the concrete industry. It refers to “Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage.” The term encompasses different means used in pursuit of a singular goal, limiting the amount of carbon dioxide in the blanket of air that hugs our planet.
In important ways, the future of the planet depends on better balancing the emission and absorption of carbon dioxide (CO2). For example, forests absorb CO2, making them effective carbon sinks. By specifying concrete over wood, designers protect unlogged forests.
Insulated concrete forms (ICFs) consist of concrete sandwiched between layers of expanded polystyrene. EPS is a rigid, closed-cell expanded foam fabricated from beads of polystyrene. ICF forms are so lightweight that they save on transportation costs. Typical R-values of ICFs are about four per inch.
There are more than 300 U.S. schools featuring ICF construction. How does a school construction technique prove so popular that the count of completed projects soars to more than in less than 20 years? By delivering the qualities that educators, parents and students all value. ICFs deliver durability, safety, energy efficiency, sound attenuation and sustainability. They also promote the design flexibility that architects value.
Concrete structures have long been valued for their safety and longevity. It also offers protection against all kinds of natural disasters. Concrete is a popular construction material for many healthcare projects. Hospitals, clinics, outpatient facilities, rehabilitation facilities and assisted living communities are some examples.
The use of insulated concrete forms (ICFs) on university campuses is evident in Pennsylvania and across the country. Leadership values the durability, safety and energy-efficiency of ICFs.
ICF buildings on university campuses are built to last. In fact, they are up to 8.5 times stronger than wood-framed buildings. Research conducted by the Portland Cement Association confirms impact resistance exceeding 200 mph.
On September 14, 2014, 60 firefighters arrived at the University of Nottingham to find a cross-laminated timber (CLT) structure engulfed in flames. The fire consumed a $24 million laboratory building that was about 70 percent complete. The likely culprit was an electrical short in a temporary power supply. The absence of windows and doors ventilated the fire to dire effect.
Early on, insulated concrete forms (ICFs) found acceptance among commercial architects and builders. For example, Kentucky’s Richardsville Elementary School became the nation’s first net-zero school in 2010. The project demonstrated how widespread use of ICFs met critical criteria in modern construction. Storm-resistant ICF construction was vital in a region subject to tornadoes.
Net-zero is the gold standard in green construction. The term “net-zero” says it all. A net-zero structure uses less energy than it generates. It combines energy-efficient construction with on-site renewable energy. Solar, passive solar, wind and geothermal are common energy sources.
If you're looking for new ways to enhance your homes curb appeal, decorative concrete is your answer.
Decorative concrete delivers advantages and value in a number of ways. With the wide array of colors and textures to choose from the owner is virtually limited only by his or her imagination. There are also options regarding the method used to obtain your pavement enhancements. A brief list of those options is provided below.
In today's world, eco-friendly practices contribute to a positive reputation for any business's brand. This is even true when it comes to schools and educational facilities. After all, even experts recognize the value of sustainable branding for an organization.
If you're in charge of building a school, you want to make decisions while conscious of the environmental impact. That's why you're interested in alternative building materials for schools.
Working in the ever-expanding construction industry means you need to stay well-informed of industry trends. Perhaps you're in charge of an upcoming paving project. So, you're curious about the benefits of using concrete vs asphalt cement for the project.
Every spring, after the winter snow and ice have disappeared from the surface of concrete driveways, sidewalks and other exterior flatwork; homeowners are uncovering what first appear to be surface defects that were not apparent in the fall or when the concrete was first placed. The concrete now has a number of blemishes, pock marks, or areas where the surface of the concrete flaked off. This condition, known as scaling, can be initiated and exacerbated by the use of deicers.
Concrete is a key building material for both residential and commercial spaces, with the global market estimated to be over $395 billion. And this is really not surprising, since concrete is the most widely used building material in the world.
This brings us to the crucial role that a concrete contractor plays in helping you build your facility.
With each project requiring its own unique set of skills and industry knowledge, connecting with the right contractor who will understand your requirements is not an easy task.
In a perfect world we would place concrete in temperatures between 50 F- 70 F but we don’t live in a perfect world. The demands of today’s construction schedules means our projects are under construction when it is hot and when it is cold. Recognizing that, we also understand that with the proper precautions and practices concrete can be placed virtually year round.
Concrete is one of the most widely-used materials in the world; in fact, the US produces 350 million cubic yards of it annually to build roads, buildings, dams, etc.
Additionally, the worldwide production of Portland cement (used to bind concrete together) is projected to increase to 4.4 billion metric tons by 2050. With increased demand and production, there is a growing concern about its rather large carbon footprint – producing this material is an energy-intensive process that emits enormous amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) and a range of other pollutants.
Concrete’s durability is the main reason it is the most sought after building material. As such, most of the focus is on mixing the material to ensure maximum strength. However the next process, known as curing, may be more important.
Concrete gets its strength through hydration. This reaction occurs due to the water in the concrete mix. To ensure that the concrete is reaches its maximum potential maintaining that moisture is critical. That is where curing starts.
American infrastructure has been deteriorating at a shocking pace. Just last year, the State of Pennsylvania received a low rating of ‘C-‘ in the infrastructure report card by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
To address this problem, researchers have been testing different materials, and ways of enhancing the performance of concrete for decades. We are now finally close to developing the perfect replacement for ordinary concrete, i.e., Bendable Concrete.
Simply put, maturity is a real-time approach to estimating the compressive strength of in-place concrete, and relating it to the effects of temperature and time.
This process is used to measure the progression of the curing process; it is an accurate indexing method of figuring out the strength of the concrete, while it cures.
The maturity method, often just called maturity, carries out strength testing in a non-destructive manner, making it ideal for use by builders, suppliers, and subcontractors. It is the perfect way of conducting quick evaluations to determine the exact instant at which the concrete reaches its required strength.
Since maturity is directly related to the strength and durability of the concrete, this method is the best way to measure it without depending on standard laboratory testing, or using test specimens. It can virtually eliminate the use of concrete cylinder break testing, with the exception of breaking cylinders as a means of verification.
Rising global economies and population have caused the construction industry to grow at a rapid pace. In turn, this has made cement as vital and valuable as oil, especially since this common building material is admirably versatile, and is widely used for constructing infrastructure, bridges, roads, etc.
Consider this: the concrete market has experienced a steady growth in the US since 2011. The production of concrete amounted to about 98 million metric tons in 2017, with predictions of further increments.
This expansion is largely fueled by the integration of technology into the concrete industry, leading to the development of special materials and advanced processes – designed to meet the growing need in an eco-friendly way.
Concrete is the most widely used building material in the world. However, researchers and manufacturers have been working together to produce different types of concrete to improve the overall quality and the economic value of construction.
As a result, translucent concrete has gained popularity in many industries across the world. As an energy saving and eco-friendly building material, Light Transmitting or translucent concrete is now increasingly used in fine architecture and cladding for interiors.
Here’s everything you need to know about translucent concrete and its future in the construction industry.
Concrete is a mixture of cement, gravel, sand, water and a range of aggregates. With about 10 billion tons of concrete produced every year, it is the most consumed substance in the world, second only to water.
It is also the world’s most widely used material for construction – from bridges to large buildings, concrete forms the very foundation of our infrastructure. Over 70% of the world’s population lives in a concrete structure.
The process of curing concrete is an important step in providing sufficient hydration to the building material. This is achieved by employing specific methods to maintain a certain level of moisture, and prevent the fall of temperature brought about by heat loss.
Curing concrete also allows it to reach its optimal strength. The longer that it is left to cure, the more durable it will be.
Some of the popular techniques for curing concrete are as follows:
With origins dating back to ancient times, modern concrete and its main ingredient, i.e. cement, has been significantly modified over time. This remarkable material was used by the Romans and Greeks some 2,000 years ago – who used volcanic ash and lime, which, when mixed with water, formed a hard mass.
It was finally in 1891, that the first concrete street was poured in the United States, in Ohio.
From the time the Theatre de Marcellus was built, to the iconic high-rise skyline of New York, the art of construction has remained relatively unchanged. To date, conventional techniques such as manual labor, formwork, and traditional building mixtures are used to erect structures.
However, with the advent of technological advancements in construction automation, an observable shift has taken place in construction processes. Disruptive technologies in the face of 3D automated machines are gradually crossing over into construction industry. Although in its infancy, these machines are expected to bring housing solutions to 1.2 billion global citizens lacking access to safe and affordable accommodation.
The first modern use of lightweight concrete (LWC) was recorded in 1917, when the American Emergency Fleet Corporation started building ships with this mixture due to its high strength and performance. Since then, LWC has become a common building material for constructing sturdy load-bearing walls, bridges, and sewer systems.
The dynamics of interior design are ever evolving. Change takes place unceasingly, bringing forth novel ideas that aid in staying ahead of the trend curve, which is imperative to remain relevant in the construction industry.
The industry-leading innovations fueling trends are only limited by the imagination of the inventors. This time around, the imagination drifts towards a revamp of industrial spaces. Among the recently emerging trends, one which remains uncommon and has conflicted with designing trends of the past is the increasing use of concrete in interior spaces.
Constructions have allowed mankind to swing the arc of civilization to the fullest. From the Megalithic Temples in Malta carved into rock, to the contemporary architecture of Burj Khalifa built from reinforced concrete, these structures tell stories of mankind’s evolutionary triumph throughout the ages.
Experimenting with materials with the aim to build sturdier structures has resulted in an industry culture of developing better building materials. These have allowed the creation of taller and highly complex architecture.
When modern building materials come into question, self-consolidating concrete, also known as SCC, stands out thanks to the numerous benefits it presents to constructors.
Whenever tasked with building a home, construction companies make sure the rafters and trusses have the strength to hold the roof. Likewise, when building bridges, the bridge piers require special attention as they are tasked with load distribution.
From parking lots to highways, anything that must bear weight should have a strong and stable foundation.
This is why pavements require a robust and solid foundation. Bearing the load of millions of vehicles that pass over them, pavements require strength and adequate load distribution to be able to provide a durable platform for transport.
Pavement construction techniques have evolved significantly over the years. This article will take a comprehensive look into the world of concrete pavement bases and sub-bases.
Construction aggregate includes a range of particulate materials - ranging from coarse to medium grains - including sand, gravel, slag, crushed stones, and recycled concrete. These materials are mixed in with concrete to give the end product a strong and durable finish.
Construction contractors and customers alike, look for affordability and strength above all else. A world of difference can be seen in both these factors when the right concrete aggregate is utilized. One viable aggregate that comes in multiple sizes and scales is hardened concrete.
Tilt-up construction is a technique that facilitates construction, making working with concrete a quick and convenient job. It involves the casting of concrete elements such as walls, pillars, and supports, horizontally on top of concrete slabs. This includes the building’s floors, and other temporary concrete castings, to be set on a flat surface.
There are numerous techniques that can be used to construct with concrete, including slipforming, jumpforming, flying slabs, tunnel forming, lift slabs, shortcreting, ferrocement, and others. However, one method that really stands out is the tilt-up construction.
Concrete contractors, along with all the stakeholders in any construction or paving project, understand the importance of safety at the site. The National Ready Mix Concrete Association (NRMCA) promotes jobsite safety through its JOB SAFE program.
It's important for everyone to unite in a common effort to keep workers and equipment out of harm's way. Accidents impact individuals and families, and they are often responsible for costly construction delays and fines that diminish hard-earned reputations.
Continuing education in American business and industry is more than a good idea; it is often a requirement. In many areas, it ensures compliance with new laws, codes and licensing requirements. Also, continuing education is sometimes a prerequisite for maintaining association memberships.
Ultimately, knowledge is power, particularly when you possess the most current knowledge in the industry. Monetize what you know through superior performance that enhances your reputation, whatever kind of industry pro you may be.
To date, more than half-a-million concrete pros have successfully completed certification programs administered by the American Concrete Institute (ACI) and its local Sponsoring Groups. The value of ACI certifications increases as more and more decision makers require them.
In Pennsylvania, virtually any commercial or PennDOT project will require appropriate certifications from the American Concrete Institute. ACI establishes industry standards recognized worldwide, and its certifications are a gold standard in the industry.
In northern climates, successful cold weather concreting expands contractor opportunities while meeting demanding construction schedules. Waiting for Mother Nature to fully cooperate often leads to costly delays that owners, investors and developers simply cannot afford.
However, proper planning is essential for successful cold weather concreting.
Self-consolidating concrete (SCC), also known as self-compacting concrete, is a flowable, non-segregating product that spreads into position. It fills congested formwork without mechanical vibration. It readily flows into complex shapes and inaccessible areas, minimizing voids in the process.
In every construction project, it is incumbent upon all stakeholders to evaluate it from a lifecycle perspective. A thorough lifecycle analysis reveals the many benefits of concrete.
In an era of increased environmental awareness, such considerations are even more important. In general, the environmental impact of a given building or pavement project decreases when materials last longer. Projects with shorter lifespans tend to generate waste quicker and consume more resources.
Decorative concrete gives the standard variety a serious makeover. Enjoy durability and style combined in one attractive, long-lasting surface. You'll find that the creative applications are virtually limitless. The undeniable curb appeal of decorative concrete means that a percentage of the cost is frequently recovered at resale.
Today's parking lot projects often face stringent environmental requirements regarding water runoff. There's also a frequent desire to optimize land use in a way that improves your return on investment (ROI). One of the best ways to deal with stormwater runoff is to reduce its volume through the use of pervious pavement.
Since much of Pennsylvaniaʼs exterior concrete work occurs in the summer, hot weather concreting is of real interest to contractors. Those that take the extra steps necessary to place concrete in hot weather stay on schedule, and they keep crews busy.
However, extra care is required to ensure that concrete placed under adverse summer circumstances will be strong and durable.
At first glance, the smooth, solid surfaces of asphalt and concrete driveways appear more similar than not. However, there are key differences in longevity, load-bearing capacity, convenience, lifecycle costs and resale value.
Many of Pennsylvania's bridges were constructed decades ago, a time when usage was vastly different than it is today. As a result, many bridges carry much more traffic than their designers ever intended. Since the days of the Eisenhower administration, America's vehicles have tripled in number.
The most recent National Bridge Inventory (NBI) from the Federal Highway Administration identifies 22,783 bridges in Pennsylvania. Forty percent of them are classified as either "structurally deficient" or "functionally obsolete." To rectify the situation, billions of dollars in repairs, restorations and replacements are needed.
The construction of buildings using insulated concrete forms (ICFs) offers numerous tangible benefits over wood-frame construction, including energy savings, durability, the speed of construction, reduced environmental impact and insurance savings. Also, ICF walls are effective vapor barriers, and they suppress the transmission of sound as well.
There are also intangible benefits to consider, like increased peace-of-mind for property owners, tenant satisfaction and a greater perception of value by prospective buyers.
Roller-compacted concrete (RCC) is a durable material increasingly used for parking lots and high-load applications. From intermodal yards to industrial flooring, RCC is already seen as an economical and durable solution. It is now also being used to complete a number of municipal paving projects in Pennsylvania.
The RCC process requires a stiff, zero-slump mix with the consistency of damp gravel. Rolling achieves desired densities and strength without reinforcement. A very low water-to-cement ratio often makes RCC as strong as conventional concrete. Diamond grinding is an option when a surface without roller marks and with precisely defined frictional characteristics is important.
If you are a building developer, you face a fundamental question when a multi-family project moves forward, "What type of construction do I invest in?" Hazard mitigation is one key consideration due to its impact on insurance and other costs.
Fortunately, it's possible to take a strategic, calculated approach to mitigating risk. MIT's Break Even Mitigation Percent (BEMP) Model guides decisions regarding hazard mitigation costs. In one example, a $340,000 hazard mitigation investment in a $10 million commercial structure is made up through reduced insurance premiums and other savings.
Should your new parking lot be surfaced with asphalt or concrete? There are many reasons to seriously consider concrete, from economic to environmental and from aesthetic to functional. Here are five key reasons why an investment in a concrete parking lot makes sense.