Canadian firm CarbonCure uses recycled CO2 and calcium to create calcium carbonate, permanently mineralizing the CO2 for use in fresh concrete and recycled concrete aggregates in a way that generates environmental and economic benefits.
Decarbonizing the construction industry is currently a central research focus. Engineers and scientists have extensively explored innovative strategies to reduce carbon emissions and consequent climate change-inducing characteristics of materials and processes.
This article will provide an overview of current strategies being employed in the construction sector, and will explore an innovative approach: utilizing recycled carbon dioxide in fresh concrete, the most commonly utilized building material today.
Why is Decarbonizing the Construction Industry Important?
Industrial activity and population growth have been intrinsically linked to climate change over the past few decades, with growing evidence that human activity is causing global temperature rises, increasingly extreme weather events, and accelerating biodiversity loss.
The global construction and building sector is the biggest consumer of raw materials and is responsible for around 25-40% of the total carbon dioxide emissions worldwide. This is in large part driven by rapid industrialization and urbanization in emerging economies such as China and India.
There exists significant potential for decarbonizing construction, an essential industry that provides infrastructure and domestic and commercial buildings. With the world warming at an alarming rate, there is no space for the industry’s current business-as-usual approach to continue, and innovative decarbonization strategies have been explored in recent years.
Cement and Concrete Production: A Key Driver of Carbon Emissions in the Sector
Cement and concrete manufacture are major contributors to the construction industry’s CO2 emissions. Responsible for around 7-8% of total emissions, the global cement industry has more than tripled its emissions in the past three decades as cement production has increased in intensity to meet global demands.