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Concrete industry commits to extend its sustainability lead

New pan-industry commitment to further sustainability improvements by 2020 and beyond

THE concrete industry has formally launched its latest sustainability performance report and committed itself to a new industry strategy to further increase its sustainability lead over other construction material sectors.

In 2008, the UK concrete industry signed-up and committed to the Concrete Industry Sustainable Construction Strategy. This landmark pan-industry agreement had as its central premise a common vision that ‘by 2012, the UK concrete industry will be recognized as the leader in sustainable construction, by taking a dynamic role in delivering a sustainable built environment in a manner that is profitable, socially responsible and functions within environmental limits’.

The publication of the fourth Concrete Sustainability Performance Report, based on 2010 production, demonstrates how far the industry has come in realizing its vision. Now, the industry is demonstrating its forward vision and determination with a new pan-industry strategy that commits it to further sustainability improvements by 2020 and beyond.

The latest Performance Report found that 88% of concrete production is responsibly sourced to the BRE standard BES 6001 – Framework Standard for the Responsibly Sourcing of Construction Products. This is higher than any other construction material sector.

Other achievements highlighted by the report include a 16.3% reduction in CO2 emissions for a standardized concrete mix, compared with the 1990 baseline figure, while the cement sector and ground-granulated blast furnace slag sectors have committed to government voluntary climate change agreements (CCA). These commit the sectors to major energy-reduction programmes. The cement sector improved its CCA performance by 44.8% between 1990 and 2010, far exceeding the original target of 30%, while the ground-granulated blast furnace slag sector achieved a 16% energy reduction between 1999 and 2010.

Major progress has also been made by the concrete industry in reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill. The 2010 figures show a 60% reduction compared to the 2008 baseline. This is significantly ahead of the set 15% reduction target. The concrete industry is a net user of waste and continues to increase its consumption. Currently, it now uses almost 47 times more waste, by-products and secondary materials from other industries than the waste it sends to landfill.

Notwithstanding all these achievements, the concrete industry is aiming to develop its sustainability achievements still further. Following extensive stakeholder engagement, the original 2008 Concrete Industry Sustainability Strategy has been updated with new objectives and performance targets.

Key objectives include engaging with the broader supply chain, sharing good practice and informing clients of the range of concrete construction solutions to allow the design and construction of a sustainable built environment. In particular, the updated Strategy commits the industry to playing an active role in the delivery of a zero-carbon built environment, providing life-cycle assessment data, and developing a material and resource efficiency programme that informs best practice across the life cycle of concrete.

In addition, the Strategy calls for the development of a low-carbon freight initiative to reduce the environmental impact of transportation, and for a water strategy to minimize water consumption.

Building upon the progress made since 2008, new performance targets have been set including: a 90% reduction in waste to landfill by 2020 (from 2008 baseline); a 30% reduction in CO2 emissions from concrete production by 2020 (from 1990 baseline); 95% of production to be certified to responsible sourcing standard BES 6001 by 2020; and 100% of relevant production sites with action plans for site stewardship and biodiversity.

Speaking at the launch of the latest Performance Report and new Construction Sustainability Strategy, Dyfrig James (pictured), chairman of the Mineral Products Association, said: ‘Our vision remains to lead the delivery of a sustainable built environment for current and future generations. The concrete industry is demonstrating great progress. The Performance Report presents the journey to date and the evolution and implementation of the Construction Sustainability Strategy will maintain that progress.’


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