Newswise — More than ten billion tonnes of concrete are produced and used worldwide every year. This is more than all other building materials combined.

By way of comparison, steel and asphalt – both of which are also used very abundantly – are each produced at around 1.5 billion tonnes annually. Even though the energy required to produce one tonne of concrete and the emissions that go with it are lower than for other building materials, the huge quantities are responsible for a significant environmental impact.

Cement, the binding agent in concrete, is the main culprit. Just under three percent of the world’s primary energy is used for the production of four billion tonnes of cement required annually. Cement production is also responsible for up to eight percent of the global CO2 emissions. According to estimates, the annual production of concrete and cement could even increase by another 50 percent by 2050 due to a growing demand in developing countries.

Replacing concrete is not an easy task, though; the building material simply offers too many advantages. These figures show that a more sustainable use of concrete – from production and efficient use of materials to demolition and recycling – will have an enormous impact on our environment and society.