Cement and Concrete Sustainability
America’s cement manufacturers are committed to sustainably producing the highest quality product needed to build durable, resilient concrete buildings and infrastructure that support safe and strong communities and power the U.S. economy. Concrete is a sustainable building material – providing energy efficiency, long-life cycle, lower life-cycle costs and resilience following natural and man-made disasters.
Sustainable Manufacturing of Cement
The Portland Cement Association supports market-based policies and initiatives that enable the industry’s continued reduction of its carbon footprint in a responsible and sustainable manner.
America’s cement producers have a strong culture of innovation that has led to gains in energy efficiency and new sustainable manufacturing practices that continually reduce environmental impacts. Over the last 40 years, U.S. cement manufacturers have reduced the energy used to produce a metric ton of cement by roughly 40 percent.
Company-driven improvements have led to improved equipment reliability, energy efficiency, and the increased the use of alternative fuels. In fact, alternative fuels, such as industrial byproducts that otherwise would end up in landfills, now represent more than 15 percent of total cement plant energy consumption in the U.S.
Stand-out efforts by cement producers in these areas have been consistently recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy Star program
America’s cement manufacturers also are in the constant pursuit of finding ever more innovative and efficient ways of producing the high quality cement our nation needs for homes, highways, hospitals and safe drinking water.
Portland-limestone cement (PLC) is relatively new to the US, but has been used internationally for many decades in all aspects of concrete construction. PLC is a blended cement that incorporates between 5% and 15% limestone as an ingredient, which lowers its environmental footprint by about 10%.
Sustainable Concrete Construction
The energy savings, resilience, and associated greenhouse gas emission reductions from constructing buildings and infrastructure with concrete more than offset the emissions from cement manufacturing over the life of a structure.
There are the many reasons why concrete is a sustainable building material:
- Long life- Concrete structures are long-lived, such as pavements that have an average service life of 30-50 years.
- Low life-cycle cost - Concrete consumes minimum materials, energy and other resources for construction, and requires little to no maintenance throughout its service life.
- Safety and reliability - Concrete does not rust, rot or burn. Concrete pavements are less susceptible to damage from heavy vehicles, is easier to see at night, ensures shorter vehicle stopping distances in bad weather and requires fewer work zones over the life of the pavement.
Resilience – concrete is resistant to natural and man-made disasters. Because of its durability, concrete structures will not require additional carbon release to produce additional materials used for repair.
- Fewer traffic disruptions - Concrete pavements do not require lengthy lane closures, with roads able to reopen within as little as six hours. This reduces time-in-traffic auto emissions.
More cement and concrete sustainable resources:
Buildings and structures with resilient design and materials are not only better able to recover following disasters, such as hurricanes or fires, they are also the new “green” buildings. Learn more >
The MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub (CSHub) is developing breakthroughs that will achieve sustainable and durable homes, buildings, and infrastructure. Learn More >
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) is a rating system devised by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) to evaluate the environmental performance of a building and encourage market transformation towards sustainable design. Learn More >
The PCA Energy and Environment Awards recognize outstanding environmental and community relations efforts that go above and beyond simply what is required. Learn More >