A Rise in Green Concrete

Decarbonizing the cement and concrete industry will be central in addressing the climate challenge.

According to McKinsey & Company, concrete is a major contributor to the emissions of greenhouse gases.

Current technologies will allow the cement and concrete industry to reach just 30 percent of the carbon-emissions reduction required to contribute to the global goal of keeping temperatures to an increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial-era levels. That means innovative technologies such as carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) must be developed and implemented. Many of these technologies are costly and not yet market ready. At the same time, investment in decarbonization competes with other corporate priorities. Decarbonizing the built environment could also eventually lead to lower overall levels of concrete consumption. Therefore, from the perspective of a cement and concrete producer, what began as a sustainability issue could soon become a growth challenge.

Cement and concrete producers can’t go it alone. Improving the odds of success will require a collaborative approach across the cement ecosystem. This article examines the various participants in the cement ecosystem as well as their respective sustainability challenges and needs to meet 2030 targets aligned with a 1.5-degree goal. In doing so, we highlight the building blocks of a winning sustainability-and-growth strategy for cement and concrete producers. We show how producers can engage with various stakeholders to meet sustainability targets, introduce innovative technologies, and pursue new green avenues for top- and bottom-line growth.

The cement ecosystem comprises a complex network of stakeholders, from cement and concrete producers to construction companies and developers. Many of these stakeholders are companies working at a local level, each with its own sustainability goals and emissions targets (exhibit).

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