LafargeHolcim rebrands alternative binders, nudges A/E/C pros on carbon

Responding to demand for construction materials performance and sustainability, market leader LafargeHolcim has rebranded its U.S. blended cement and supplementary cementitious materials portfolio as Envirocore Series—led by OneCem Portland Limestone, MaxCem Blended and NewCem Slag Cements. Concurrently, it calls on architectural, engineering and construction (A/E/C) interests, along with their concrete suppliers, to adopt more sustainable products.

“Concrete is the most widely-consumed material after water, so we consider it our responsibility to do everything we can to lower the carbon footprint of the cement we produce,” says Senior Vice President of Sales, US Cement Patrick Cleary. “Our organization has invested heavily in offering blended cements and SCM to customers for two decades. This rebrand signifies that the time for change in the building industry is now.”

While the industry considers how to lower its carbon footprint with new technologies, he adds, A/E/C professionals and concrete producers should look to finely-ground limestone and blended cements as proven, yet somewhat underutilized. “The industry is still in the early stages of embracing these solutions in the United States. We want to help accelerate adoption,” Cleary affirms. “We’re committed to optimizing [concrete] performance and answering the call for a zero-carbon future.”

Compared to other building materials’ embodied energy and CO₂ emissions metrics, concrete is the favorable choice for building and infrastructure expansion. It nevertheless has a high perceived carbon footprint due to the energy intensiveness and generation of CO₂ in portland cement processing and finishing.

Some Envirocore Series incorporate byproducts from other industries that offer sustainability and performance advantages for those who construct buildings of all kinds. Their use as a partial portland cement replacement maintains concrete durability and performance, while lowering energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. For every ton of clinker replaced by SCM, CO₂ emissions are reduced by approximately 0.8 tons.

The Envirocore Series product with the broadest potential is OneCem, a portland-limestone blend of which Holcim (US) plants have shipped more than 3 million metric tons. “We designed [it] to perform the same or better than standard portland cement so it can be used as a replacement. OneCem can also be used with SCM, such as slag and fly ash, to further enhance performance and improve sustainability,” notes LafargeHolcim US Cement Director of Quality and Product Performance David Diedrick.

OneCem meets the requirements of ASTM C 595/AASHTO M 240, Standard Specification for Blended Hydraulic Cements, where finely ground limestone content can range from 5 percent to 15 percent. Whether realized through portland-limestone blends or SCM, reduction of finished concrete’s clinker factor—i.e. pure portland cement binder, measured in one-ton increments—represents a carbon dioxide emissions reduction of approximately 0.8 tons.

The Envirocore Series market development supports broader LafargeHolcim Ltd. climate related measures consistent with the 2015 Paris Accord. Last month, the parent company has became the first global building materials operator to join the “Business Ambition for 1.5°C” campaign of the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), London. A collaboration of the United Nations Global Compact, World Resources Institute and World Wildlife Federation, SBTi will validate LafargeHolcim carbon emissions reduction targets. Over the next decade, the producer aims for a CO2 intensity benchmark of 475 kg net per ton of cementitious material.

LafargeHolcim is likewise partnering with SBTi to develop a roadmap for aligning climate targets to a 1.5°C future in the cement sector, pushing the boundaries of green construction. “I believe in building a world that works for people and the planet,” says CEO Jan Jenisch. “That’s why we are reinventing how the world builds today to make it greener with low-carbon and circular solutions. I am very excited to be working with SBTi, taking a rigorous science-based approach to shape our net zero roadmap and accelerating efforts to substantially lower our CO2 footprint.”

“As the world’s largest cement producer, we have a key role to play in addressing today’s climate crisis,” adds Chief Sustainability Officer Magali Anderson. “On our way to becoming a net zero company, we are not only part of the solution, we are committed to supporting our customers in their CO2 -reduction ambitions. No company can tackle today’s climate challenge alone, that’s why we are partnering for impact.”