We are into a second decade of covering ready mixed and manufactured concrete producer response to construction market catalysts driving Environmental Product Declaration preparation and submittals: The Architecture 2030 Challenge (2012), compelling proof of lower embodied carbon materials or products in project specifications, and the U.S. Green Building Council LEED v4 standard (2014-16), the first broad-based mechanism incentivizing suppliers, producers and manufacturers to maintain EPD libraries.
This past year has seen the U.S. General Services Administration and Environmental Protection Agency, along with the Departments of Defense and Transportation, move decisively on low carbon material or product procurement for federally funded building and heavy/civil work. The EPA is serving as a vehicle for ushering White House procurement policy and positioning EPDs as primary federal agency reference tools for carbon dioxide emissions reporting (note “Low carbon material, product timetable,” page 12). Concurrent with swift action in Washington, D.C., the pace of carbon accounting has stepped up considerably on the private construction front, as evidenced in contracts for owners no less than Amazon Web Services (note Holcim ECOPact, page 34), Microsoft and Meta Platforms.
While EPDs prepared according to the ISO 14025 standard contain a wealth of data, the metric of most consequence in this era of Carbon Neutrality, Buy Clean and LEED v4 is a material or product’s Global Warming Potential or kg CO2 equivalent/standard unit of measure. As recently noted here, that figure in cement and concrete terms is expressed as kg CO2e/ton or cubic yard. Demand for carbon accounting and reporting throughout public and private construction could ultimately position kg CO2e as a contract document essential, alongside w/c or w/c + cm ratio and compressive strength psi figures.
The kg CO2e for the principal components of load-bearing members in engineered or specified construction—cement, concrete and steel—continues on a downward trajectory, thanks to new production, processing or manufacturing technologies, coupled with advances in materials and construction practice. Content highlighting progress in cement, concrete and concrete reinforcing or structural steel CO2 emissions metrics frames a new portal from Concrete Products and sister publications Cement Products and Rock Products.
Our Construction Materials Carbon Management or (CM)2 site, www.cmcarbonmanagement.com, covers cement, cast-in-place or precast concrete, masonry, and concrete reinforcing or structural steel. In addition to EPD data or metrics, content focuses on processing or manufacturing measures lowering the GHG Protocol-defined Scope 1, 2, 3 emissions data increasingly accompanying public or private construction contracts and corporate sustainability reports.
“Among construction supply chain parties, cement, concrete and steel operators are drawing the most attention for their material or products’ embodied carbon. Our new portal shows the strides they are making toward meeting project owners’ carbon thresholds,” notes Concrete Products publisher and Semco Publishing President Peter Johnson.
In addition to daily “Neutrality Newsline” postings on the production, policy and market fronts, (CM)2 provides primers on EPDs and their underlying Product Category Rules, plus the GHG Protocol emissions accounting. A Supply Chain gallery spans Concrete Masonry, Concrete Reinforcing Steel, Portland Cement, Structural Precast Concrete, Structural Steel and Supplementary Cementitious Materials categories. A “Carbon-Wise Materials” directory references low-carbon steel, cementitious material and concrete sources, while a “Disruptors” companion presents startups in cement or steel plant-grade clean energy, cement alternatives, low carbon concrete, and CO2 capture and utilization.
The Cement Products, Concrete Products and Rock Products team is uniquely positioned to power (CM)2 and convey cement, concrete and steel interests’ strong carbon management message and best practices to parties on both sides of the mill, plant or yard gate.