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WATCH: Can concrete help reach net zero construction?

The built environment is tied to vast amounts of global emissions, with concrete a particular problem. But can this common high-impact material actually speed up the net zero construction race?

Regular readers of Environment Journal and our sister title, Air Quality News will understand only too well that towns and cities have a lot to answer for in climate crisis terms. From urban heat islands to air pollution, plastic waste to traffic congestion, where you find the most people you also find the most ecological problems. 

net zero construction

When it comes to construction, the figures look bleak. 13% of global emissions currently come from materials alone, while the built environment – high density areas where you get lots of structures and infrastructure made by humans – is tied to a staggering 40% of all greenhouse gas output. 

The simple truth is the way we move around needs to change, as does the way we process and create the materials used in creating the places where we live and work. Progress in this are is painfully slow, with successive studies pointing to the need to use less materials such as steel standing at odds with rocketing prices and demand. 

We have previously reported on work to clean up another major piece of the climate-construction jigsaw, with researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute now working on a sustainable substitute to concrete, and Israeli company ECOncrete already picking up an international award for its efforts to make marine-friendly concrete that offers a 70% reduction in carbon footprint. But what if we could turn buildings themselves, and the concrete that they are built from, into carbon capture and storage infrastructure, meaning new developments have a carbon negative impact? 

Take a look at the video below to learn more. 

Image: Zach Woolf

More on net zero construction: 

Switching to sustainable buildings materials has cast concerns amongst construction industry

We must use less steel to reduce emissions, study warns

Researchers receive new funding for sustainable concrete substitute

ECOncrete founders in line for European Inventor Award

Construction industry accounts for 38% of CO2 emissions

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