Photo Credit: John + Samantha at johnandsamantha.ca
Concrete: It’s everywhere. From sky-high skyscrapers to sewers deep underground, concrete has become the backbone of the modern world. Currently, humans use seven billion cubic meters of concrete per year, which is equivalent to one cubic meter for every person on the planet. But one thing we don’t consider is the negative impact concrete has on the environment. For every kilogram of cement produced (a key ingredient in concrete), 0.5 kilograms of carbon dioxide is released into the air.
Current greenhouse gas emission levels are predicted to cause more drought and flooding, more extreme weather incidents, and rising sea levels in the coming years. In fact, we’re already seeing the effects today, including longer, more intense heat waves and more powerful hurricanes. To prevent further damage, the construction industry needs to take swift and innovative approaches to reduce industrial emissions.
Understanding the environmental impact of concrete
The emissions arising from industrial processes, including steel, cement, oil refineries, and paper productions, account for nearly 20 percent of all anthropogenic carbon emissions and constitute the second largest producer among all sectors. The production of cement, the ingredient that gives concrete its strength, is responsible for up to 7 percent of the world’s total carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
The good news is that scientists are creating concrete that is less harmful to the environment.
CarbonCure Technologies, a Halifax-based startup, has developed a process to recycle CO2 by infusing it right back into solid concrete, trapping it forever. Concrete is made by mixing cement and sand, and slowly adding water until the mixture is workable; CarbonCure’s process injects a precise dosage of carbon dioxide into ready-mix concrete and concrete masonry products, where the CO2 becomes chemically converted into a mineral.
CarbonCure and Tridel were recently featured on CBC. To understand this technology in greater detail, check out the segment clip.
This process has the potential to prevent up to 700 megatonnes of carbon dioxide from entering the air each year. That’s the equivalent of taking 150 million cars off the road (more than half of the cars in the United States). If we continue to use this process through 2030, it could reduce as much as 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
This new process of putting carbon emissions back into building materials requires less cement, therefore reducing cement consumption, which reduces the carbon footprint.
Environmentally-friendly concrete is quality concrete
CarbonCure’s clean technology produces concrete that is equally as strong as traditionally-made concrete, which makes it the most attractive, high-quality building material for sustainable developers. It is exactly the same quality of concrete, only greener.
“We’ve been attuned to CarbonCure ever since it showed up in the marketplace,” says Luke Johnson, Director, Project Management, Tridel. “A lot of our projects have been utilizing CarbonCure in our concrete blocks.”
Tridel is the first and only residential high-rise developer in the GTA implementing cast-in-place CarbonCure concrete, working with concrete supplier St. Mary’s CBM. Tridel is utilizing cast-in-place CarbonCure concrete for its 14-storey condo development, FORM, in downtown Toronto. “The walls and floors from the ninth floor and up use cast-in-place CarbonCure concrete—about 3,000 cubic meters of it,” notes Johnson.
An area of the P1 below-grade parking structure at the FORM condo acted as the test bed to evaluate the integrity of the cast-in-place CarbonCure concrete. Structurally, everything has met the specified criteria after testing.
An additional CarbonCure project, a hospital in Vaughan, Ontario, is using more than 500,000 blocks of the environmentally-friendly concrete; that’s just under 14,000 pounds of carbon dioxide that’s not going into the atmosphere.
Leo DelZotto, President and CEO of Tridel notes, “We are always looking to improve and push the construction industry forward. We work with industry experts like CarbonCure that share our common interest in taking steps toward developing more sustainable buildings and a better product. ”
Leading the construction industry to take action
As a leader in innovative, environmentally-friendly residential development, Tridel hopes to inspire the construction industry to take action by adopting technologies like CarbonCure for the greater good of the planet. Implementing this technology in every construction project could drastically change our world for the better.
By utilizing the cleanest technologies, Tridel is reducing carbon emissions while maintaining the same high-quality standards clients expect—ultimately leaving a better world for future generations.
“We believe we can make a significant impact, one step at a time.
This initiative started with a concrete wall in a parking garage and grew.”
Leo DelZotto, President & CEO, Tridel