The EcoSmart Concrete Project: Minimizing the Greenhouse Gas Signature of Concrete

Michel de Spot chair of the EcoSmart Concrete Project presented this paper at the US Green Buildings -USGBC- in Pittsburgh November 2003.

Concrete a material synonymous with strength and longevity is a leading and universal material that is used in all types of construction. However Portland cement a key constituent of concrete has a significant environmental impact: the making of every tonne of clinker the base for Portland cement produces a similar amount of carbon dioxide -CO2- a greenhouse gas as a by-product which is released into the atmosphere.

The EcoSmart™ Concrete Project’s objective is to minimize the greenhouse gas -GHG- signature of concrete by replacing Portland cement with supplementary cementing materials -SCMs- such as fly ash to the greatest extent possible while maintaining or improving cost constructability and performance. The Project is an innovative industry-government partnership that aims to increase awareness of the benefits and challenges of EcoSmart concrete through case studies applied research and communication to the point where the technology becomes common practice. EcoSmart has demonstrated through a number of case studies that replacement levels of 50% are achievable within the parameters of cost constructability and performance particularly when appropriate design methodologies and construction practices are used.

Implementation of this technology in the field is one of the biggest challenges for EcoSmart. The LEED rating system potentially offers an incentive to specifiers to increase the use of SCMs in development projects. However in order for the LEED system to realize this potential it must first recognize the full environmental benefit of SCMs within its credit system.

Presentation Author: Michel de Spot, P.Eng.