Several key concrete industry organizations have committed to achieving carbon neutrality in the coming decades. ACI established its Center of Excellence for Carbon Neutral Concrete in early 2022. The Portland Cement Association (PCA) released its Roadmap to Carbon Neutrality in late 2021. Advancement and adoption of emerging technologies like direct carbon capture are a step in the right direction, but achieving this lofty goal will also require changes to design codes, standards and specifications. How to implement these changes is a matter of ongoing debate. Codes and standards will also need to change to accommodate nontraditional materials like alternative cements, supplementary cementitious materials, nonmetallic reinforcement, and other emerging technologies that can reduce the carbon footprint of the concrete but are not always compatible with current specifications. This forum will address the strengths and weaknesses of current design codes, standards, and specifications with respect to industry goals for carbon neutraility, and identify opportunities to improve these critical documents to better support the industry's ongoing effort to decarbonize concrete.
A panel of industry experts will discuss the topic from varying perspectives. The session will begin with short presentations by each panelist and conclude with an interactive panel discussion with the audience.
(1) Describe prominent industry efforts to decarbonize concrete;
(2) Give examples of emerging technologies to support carbon-neutral concrete;
(3) Explain the strengths and weaknesses of current codes, standards, and specifications with respect to low carbon concrete;
(4) Identify necessary changes to these documents to support carbon neutrality.
This session has been AIA/ICC approved for 2 CEU/PDH credits.
The Top 10 Ways to Reduce Concrete's Carbon Footprint
Presented By: Shamim Rashid-Sumar
Affiliation: National Ready Mixed Concrete Association
Description: Concrete is unique among building materials. Its formulation is highly influenced by its application. Design professionals and contractors have a greater influence on concrete formulation than they do with other building products. Concrete can be made stronger, lighter, more flowable, stiffer, less permeable, and even weaker depending on the performance needs. All of these formulations can be made at the same factory within minutes of one another. No other building material is that versatile. Concrete does not rot, rust, or burn. It can be exposed to the elements or for architectural reasons. Concrete is economical, available nearly everywhere, and made from the most abundant materials on the planet, usually from local sources.
Design and construction teams can implement 10 simple strategies in order to reduce concrete’s carbon footprint. The strategies are meant to achieve a lower carbon footprint without impacting the other traditional performance criteria for concrete. This presentation will provide the top 10 ways to get all the benefits of concrete at a lower carbon footprint and a necessary preamble to our discussion on the codes and standards changes needed to support the concrete industry’s carbon neutrality goals.
NEU's Perspective on Integrating Sustainability and Carbon Neutrality into Building Codes and Standards
Presented By: Andrea Schokker
Affiliation: American Concrete Institute
Description: Green code language is showing up across the country and the concrete industry should be a key voice at the table. Paths include a variety of options ranging from highly prescriptive to building life cycle analysis. We'll discuss the most feasible and outcome-focused way to get to carbon neutrality as well as ways to give our industry's input in this discussion.
Accelerating Sustainability with Cement and Cementitious Materials
Presented By: Eric Koehler
Affiliation: Titan America
Description: Cement is typically the largest individual contribution to the embodied global warming potential (CO2-equivalent) of a concrete mixture. The cement industry has developed roadmaps to reaching carbon neutral concrete by mid-century, both for the US and globally. This presentation will identify how cement and cementitious materials are expected to evolve in the roadmaps and discuss how effective updates to codes and standards can help to accelerate the achievement of carbon neutral concrete.
Barriers to Reducing the Carbon Intensity of Concrete - Can Codes and Standards Become a Force for Good?
Presented By: Thomas J Van Dam
Description: Codes, specifications, and standards, can at times, create barriers to reducing the carbon intensity of concrete by setting minimum cement contents, limiting the percent allowable replacement with supplementary cementitious materials, and/or only permit the use certain carbon intensive cements. This is more problematic when prescriptive specifications approach concrete mixture design as a recipe. As codes and specification evolve and adopt performance acceptance criteria, opportunities for innovation and further carbon reduction are realized, especially if such reduction is incentivized.
Is the Code Ready for Net Zero, or is it a Zero?
Presented By: Julie K Buffenbarger
Affiliation: Beton Consulting Engineering
Description: Building code provisions address structural stability, fire safety, adequate means of egress (exits), sanitation, and more. However, most of these provisions are to minimal standards and laggard to adopting technological advancements, growing interests in sustainability, resilience, and net-zero concepts -all of which provide significant opportunities to leverage climage solutions.
Building codes have far-reaching impacts that could assist in decarbonizing the energy, transportation, and construction sectors. In addition, decisions made on codes impact building efficiency, public health, and climate goals - and the process and outcome should not be discounted or disregarded.
Plans for Including Sustainability in the ACI 318-25 Building Code
Presented By: Andrew Taylor
Affiliation: KPFF Consulting Engineers