June 20th, 2024

Regional concrete industry responding to calls for change

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on December 6, 2022.

Herald photo by Alejandra Pulido-Guzman Alternative fuels and materials BD manager for Ash Grove Ontario, Atif Asif speaks about changes the cement and concrete industries are making to reduce their carbon footprint, Thursday at the Lethbridge Construction Association.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

Representatives of multiple organizations that use or produce concrete on a regular basis for different uses across the city and beyond, came together Thursday to learn about changes the industry is going through to reduce their carbon footprint.

As eight per cent of global CO2 emissions are coming from cement production, and cement is used in the production of concrete, by changing the type of cement used the carbon footprint can be reduced.

On Thursday BILD Lethbridge in partnership with Lethbridge Construction Association, hosted a lunch and learn session sponsored by BURNCO, where members of Ash Grove, a cement production company that supplies multiple local concrete manufacturers, talked about how the industry is adapting to changes in order to reach Net-Zero by 2050.

One of the companies present at the event was Precon Manufacturing, a company that produces precast concrete structures for storm and sanitary infrastructure as well as utilities and water management, and general manager Andrew Beaton said they will be changing the cement they use to produce concrete as soon as next year.

“We’re preparing for a change in cement from high sulfate resistant cement, which we’ve used for the past 30 to 40 years, to general use limestone blend cement,” said Beaton.

He said they are anticipating some changes to their mix design, and will have to do extensive testing over the next few months, but all in the effort to reduce their carbon emissions and be a part of the green movement.

“We’re in a spot now where we’re trying to fine tune our mix design so that we reduce the use of certain products that are responsible for some of these higher CO2 emissions,” said Beaton.

He said that where they have historically used a certain percentage of cement and a certain per cent of a cementitious material called fly ash, which is a by-product of burning coal in electric generation power plants, something like this is going to push them to try new supplementary cementitious materials (SCM) available in the market to reduce their carbon footprint.

“There’s options that are becoming available, that have been available, but just haven’t been explored because there’s been no push to do so. There will be a lot of testing and experimenting I would say, over the next five plus years in the industry,” said Beaton.

During the presentation, alternative fuels and materials BD manager with Ontario Ash Grove, Atif Asif said municipalities are going to start asking manufacturers for their Global Warming Potential (GWP).

“How much CO2 are you producing per Kg (kilogram) of concrete. In our plant in Mississauga GU (general use cement) produces 894 kg of CO2 per metric ton of concrete while GUL (general use limestone blend cement) produces 834,” said Asif.

He said the choice for GU is not even going to be there eventually.

It was noted during the presentation that Europe has been using Portland limestone blend cement (PLC) since the late 1960s, while Canada began using PLC since 2008 and the United States since 2012.

Asif said in Canada the use of PLC varies, but more is being used across the country.

“Ontario, pretty much 90 per cent of the market has switched to PLC, Winnipeg and Manitoba is starting to switch over as well. Alberta is still behind, it’s being used in a project to project basis but we hope that will change within the next few years,” said Asif.

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It is great that we are reducing our emissions, but I would like to point out that Canada only emits 1.6% (one point six percent) of the world GHG’s while China, over 30% (thirty percent).
China, the EU and the US emit almost 60% of the world GHG’s.
If Canada drastically reduced all emissions, we may be able to get to about 0.8% (point eight percent) which is nothing!
China could make the biggest impact, but since it owns the UN with it’s billions of dollars in bribery payments it gives the UN, they appear to have immunity from any demands. If they reduced their emissions by only 10% it would be double what Canada emits.
Their coal burning furnaces cause smog conditions in China that often shut down airports and businesses.
If the UN really wanted climate change action, they would be focusing on the biggest emitters that show high amounts of smog, etc.
It truly makes me wonder if it is not all about more billionaires making even more money!
Canada can do very little to contribute to any significant change!