Low Carbon Construction is Industry Future

Climate change presents a unique challenge to society, and requires a collective and efficient response. Last year the EPA forecast that by 2020 Ireland’s CO2 emissions will exceed the EU’s legally binding target by up to 8.8 million tonnes CO2, and stressed that “…Ireland needs to develop as a low carbon economy going forward”.

A substantial amount of CO2 emissions arise from the built environment. These are CO2 emissions from building use (operational), and CO2 from manufacture of materials (embodied). Embodied CO2 contributes up to 19% of CO2 emissions from the built environment1, and will soon become the major contributor to the environmental impact of buildings, as the energy demand of buildings decreases, and electricity becomes decarbonised.

The importance of addressing the embodied CO2 emissions of materials is now widely recognised throughout the industry. CO2 reduction tools such as ‘Carbon Critical Design’, ‘Carbon Profiling’, carbon accounting and life cycle assessments are now commonly used to minimise both embodied and operational CO2 emissions in construction.

Given the complexity of this issue, and the need for objective data, this article sets out the facts on the environmental impacts and sustainability of ground granulated blastfurnace slag (GGBS) cement. GGBS cement is now widely specified in Ireland by engineers, architects, developers and clients to achieve significant reductions in embodied CO2, thereby responding to the EPA call for a low carbon economy in Ireland

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