Roadmap to Carbon Neutrality progresses along Madison Avenue

Portland Cement Association Chairman Ron Henley (GCC America) told a New York Climate Week gathering in mid-September how U.S. producers have exceeded expectations outlined a year ago in the PCA Roadmap to Carbon Neutrality. With a 2050 horizon, the document offered carbon dioxide emissions reduction opportunities across a Clinker, Cement, Concrete, Construction and Carbonation value/process chain. 

Taking the podium at an event venue on New York City’s Madison Avenue, Henley attributed early Cement headway to uptake of portland-limestone cement among public agencies, including 44 state departments of transportation, and private construction parties coast to coast. “We aimed to increase the use of lower carbon cement products and are already seeing more architects and builders requesting [such] options,” he said. “Carbon capture, utilization and storage is another big issue we want to accelerate.”

In a nod to the Roadmap’s Construction link, PCA Vice Chairman Filiberto Ruiz (Votorantim Cimentos North America) stressed the importance of downstream parties’ actions in attaining carbon neutrality. “We need to change the way buildings are designed and [emphasize] performance-based specifications” and, in concrete mix designs, “optimization of materials.” Performance-based specs, he contends, will position U.S. practitioners to move from mix designs where the clinker factor, or portland cement dosage, shifts from a typical 85-90 percent range in the binder schedule to a 70 percent benchmark common in overseas concrete markets. 

“The U.S. cement and concrete industry seldom finds itself in the limelight,” observed PCA President and CEO Mike Ireland. “That’s changing now as we are at the heart of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act,” provisions of which “will hasten our pace to carbon neutrality.”

“Our industry has long recognized the need for emissions reduction and has taken steps to increase efficiencies for many years, but we’re in a unique position to do much more,” he added. “We’re already seeing encouraging signs of progress on our Roadmap. We must collaborate across the entire value chain.” To illustrate the Roadmap’s central premise—the universal nature of greenhouse gas emissions management—Ireland capped his presentation brandishing a New York City snow globe, noting how the Big Apple, as with any developed area on earth, has no dome to contain the carbon dioxide it generates. 

PCA and the Global Cement and Concrete Association (GCCA) presented the 90-minute “Towards Net Zero: Cement and Concrete Action and Progress – 2050 Roadmap ‘One Year On’” in a hybrid live-virtual format arranged by New York Climate Week organizer, London-based Climate Group. The Associations released their similarly structured Roadmaps to Carbon Neutrality in October 2021. 

“You have seen the roadmaps, commitments and passions,” said GCCA Chairman Jan Jenisch (Holcim Group) in concluding “Towards Net Zero” remarks. “Decarbonization is on our minds. We are accelerating the process now and making it happen. Let’s team up and engage with all construction value chain stakeholders—producers to regulators to customers.”