3 Reasons Concrete Doesn’t Live Up to Its Environmental Claims

Construction workers are pouring concrete to build roads. Concrete road construction

Countering Concrete’s Carbon-Friendly Claims

How we build infrastructure and what materials it’s made from are an important part of reducing emissions and solving the climate crisis. The concrete industry has made claims that it can reduce emissions that come from the building sector — but new research looking into those promises find they come up short in all three areas concrete claims to reduce carbon emissions:

  • It won’t cut heating bills
  • It isn’t more durable than other materials
  • Its ability to absorb carbon is minimal

Why This Matters: Cement alone makes up 8% of global CO2 emissions because of the carbon-intensive, high-heat processing it requires. The number of buildings worldwide is estimated to double by 2060, so what materials builders choose for construction will have a big impact on the state of the climate crisis.

As research author Alice Moncaster put it: “The accurate measurement and genuine reduction of carbon, both as embodied in the materials and resulting from the operation of a building, are essential to reducing our impact on the environment.

Building Materials of the Future: Putting concrete to the side, there are other innovative ways to construct buildings. The algae bricks developed by Prometheus Materials create a tenth the carbon emissions of a cement brick. The En+ Group produces low-carbon aluminum, another building material that’s normally carbon-intensive. Their product produces  2.6 tons of CO2 per ton of aluminum, compared to the industry averages 16.5 tons.