Tech giants embrace carbon-optimized concrete for data centers

iMasons Climate Accord participants agree to an open standard and governance to report carbon impact in materials, products, and power across digital infrastructure. Their standardized model or framework measures progress in reducing a) embodied carbon in materials used to build and equipment to operate data centers; and, b) hourly carbon intensity of source power for operating facilities.

In “Greener Concrete for Data Centers,” an open letter posted at, iMasons Climate Accord leaders Amazon Web Services, Google, Meta Platforms and Microsoft implore their industry to work together to a) Deliver a technology roadmap to decarbonize concrete; b) Set standard carbon dioxide emissions measurement baselines to measure against; c) Drive transparency through Environmental Product Declarations; and, d) Create a consistent method to calculate CO2 emissions. 

“We can collectively accelerate the decarbonization of data center building construction worldwide starting with adoption and scaling of greener concrete,” the technology giants contend. “We call on our industry to use less concrete where possible, and to specify and deploy the lowest carbon concrete available while meeting structural, performance, and cost criteria.”

“As part of Amazon’s commitment to reach net-zero carbon by 2040, we are innovating and collaborating across the industry to identify and develop new solutions to decarbonize our data center infrastructure. We look forward to working with iMasons Climate Accord, its members, and the broader industry to help accelerate and expand the availability of low-carbon concrete,” says AWS Data Center Design Engineering Vice President Eric Wilcox.

“We recognize the urgency to reduce the embodied carbon of our data centers. One of the best opportunities we have is to deliver greener concrete faster through robust action across the data center industry. We invite our supply chain partners, industry innovators, and industry groups to collaborate with us to meet our ambitious sustainability goals,” add Meta’s Chris Malone and Doug Mouton. 

The iMasons Climate Accord outlines three phases for data center operator and construction stakeholders to realize low-carbon concrete by taming the clinker factor (i.e. portland cement-only binder) in mix designs:

  1. Leverage existing supplementary cementitious materials, namely fly ash and slag cement (2023-2027).
  2. Accelerate adoption of newer or emerging material technologies, substituting portland cement with slag-based alkali activated cement, calcium sulfoaluminate binder, geopolymers, recycled glass pozzolans, and limestone calcined clay cement or LC3 (2026-2030).
  3. Employ carbon capturing or sequestering cement and aggregates, graphite cement, geopolymers, and other innovations resulting net carbon negative construction products (2028-2040).

AWS, Google, Meta and Microsoft are Hyperscale members of the iMasons Climate Accord, whose seven other membership levels encompass data center owners and operators, infrastructure equipment, power or service providers, and financiers. “The Accord is proud to host the Greener Concrete for Data Centers open letter as it is perfectly aligned with our collective mission,” concludes Infrastructure Masons (iMasons) Chairman Dean Nelson. “Our intent is to showcase the commitment of industry leaders to help broaden the reach and accelerate the pace of adoption.”

An eBay and Sun Microsystems veteran, Nelson founded Beaverton, Ore.-based iMasons in 2016 as “a professional association of industry executives and technology professionals entrusted with building and operating the physical and logical structures of the Digital Age.” The group’s global membership spans $150 billion-plus in infrastructure across 130 countries. 

The American Society of Concrete Contractors has tapped two recently retired veterans to develop and manage a newly formed Sustainability Committee. “This initiative has two purposes,” says former Executive Director Bev Garnant, HACI. “The first is to collaborate with the Portland Cement Association, National Ready Mixed Concrete Association and others to best achieve the goal of lowering the carbon footprint of our industry. The second is to gather and develop resources to help our members navigate this new reality.”

“Sustainability is ASCC’s new safety,” adds former Technical Director Bruce Suprenant, FACI, P.E. “The majority of owners and developers will soon mandate that the construction of their projects, as well as the long-term operation of the structures, be as sustainable as possible. It is ASCC’s responsibility to provide contractors the knowledge and expertise to meet these preconditions.”

Charter ASCC Sustainability Committee members include representatives of PCA, NRMCA, and NEU, An ACI Center of Excellence for Carbon Neutral Concrete, along with concrete contractors, producers and consultants. ASCC represents 700-plus construction stakeholders from 14 countries.