Sustainability & Emissions

The growth of cement production, sustainability and emissions paradox

The industry favourite

Concrete is the most commonly used man-made material in the world, its production equivalent being almost three tonnes of concrete per person, twice as much as all other construction materials put together.

Concrete is inherently a low carbon constructional material that can be produced just about anywhere in the world using local resources, which lower transport emissions. However, volumes are very large. In 2011, global cement production totalled 3.4 billion tonnes, cement representing only 10 to 15% of the concrete mix.

It is predicted that its unique qualities will make concrete ever more popular, and as developing countries and emerging economies expand their infrastructure and building stock, more and more concrete and, thus, cement will be needed. Cement production is estimated to reach over 5 billion tonnes by 2050.

The emissions paradox

Compared to other building materials concrete has a low carbon footprint, i.e. it emits less CO2 per tonne. And yet, the enormous volumes used mean that concrete production accounts for about 3 - 8 percent of the man-made CO2 emissions worldwide.

Comparative relative energy and CO2 per construction material

However, given the very large volumes, total emissions are considerable. Because a small reduction in emission can make a real difference, our team of researchers can punch well above their weight and lay the basis for a global reduction of millions of tonnes of CO2 annually.