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Title: Role of Mixture Overdesign in the Sustainability of Concrete: Current State and Future Perspective (Open Source)

Author(s): Julie K. Buffenbarger, James M. Casilio, Hessam AzariJafari, and Stephen S. Szoke

Publication: Materials Journal

Volume: 120

Issue: 1

Appears on pages(s): 89-100

Keywords: building code; carbon footprint; concrete overdesign; life cycle assessment

DOI: 10.14359/51737334

Date: 1/1/2023

The overdesign of concrete mixtures and substandard concrete acceptance testing practices significantly impact the concrete industry’s role in sustainable construction. This study evaluates the impact of overdesign on the sustainability of concrete and embodied carbon emissions at the national and project scales. In addition, this paper reviews quality results from a concrete producer survey; established industry standards and their role in acceptance testing in the building codes; the reliance on proper acceptance testing by the licensed design professional, building code official, and the project owner; and the carbon footprints that result from overdesign of concrete mixtures. In 2020, a field survey conducted on over 100 projects documented Pennsylvania’s quality of field testing. Of those surveyed, only 15% of the projects met the testing criteria within the ASTM and building code requirements. As a result, the total overdesign-induced cement consumption is as large as 6.7% of the estimated cement used in the United States.