lower-carbon cements

The British Standard for concrete now allows greater use of lower-carbon cements

Posted on: September 1st 2023    •    Posted in: Company News, Greenbloc

The construction world is preparing for change, as the British Standard for concrete gets a long-awaited update that will allow greater use of lower-carbon cements.

We have all read about the UK government’s target to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 but as the most consumed material in the world, concrete, which contains cement, is also the third highest perpetrator of CO2 emissions produced by humankind.

There are a number of ways to lessen the embodied carbon in concrete by reducing the percentage of clinker present in the mix. Clinker is produced during the manufacture of Ordinary Portland Cement from a mixture of limestone and minerals that have been heated in a kiln. This process releases CO2 and further combustion emissions, including CO2, are released due to the amount of heat required to start and sustain the chemical reaction.

Later this year, the British Standards Institute (BSI) will release a new version of the British Standard for concrete BS 8500, which will include lower carbon cements, CEM II/C-M and CEM VI providing greater options to producers looking to reduce the embodied carbon in concrete.

Across the industry, manufacturers of concrete have been looking at ways to reduce the embodied carbon in their products by adding other cementitious materials to Portland cement. For example, switching clinker for ground granulated blast-furnace slag (GGBS) has shown a significant effect on lowering embodied carbon. CCP Building Products Ltd have been at the forefront of this revolution, developing low carbon concrete products for our customers and launching the UK’s first ultra-low carbon concrete blocks in 2021.

Previously supplementary materials were added individually to cement mixes but extensive research by the Mineral Products Association (MPA) has demonstrated that blending multiple components together has proven beneficial, in particular the combination of limestone powder with GGBS, fly ash or calcined clay.

Calculations have shown that the embodied carbon of a cement/GGBS/limestone blend could be up to 60% lower than Portland cement, which still represents nearly 80% of all cement currently manufactured in the UK. And if multi-component cements were put to full use, this would reduce direct emissions from cement by over 4 million tonnes of CO2 each year.

These facts, along with the tried and tested use of blended multi-component cements and concretes across the globe, have led to the update of British Standard BS 8500 which is due in November this year.

It is expected that the new British Standard will support the construction industry in offering low-carbon cement products such as concrete, by introducing a wider range of low-carbon cement mixes that can be specified by designers, contractors or other specifiers.

CCP are delighted at the news of this revision, which will allow us to develop our Greenbloc technology and product range even further. We currently offer three grades of Greenbloc, which all offer carbon savings compared with Ordinary Portland Cement (OPC). Greenbloc Ultra is cement free and offers carbon savings of up to 80%. Greenbloc Premium, achieves savings of up to 70% and Greenbloc Standard now offers 50% carbon savings – but for the same price as a traditional OPC block. All of our Greenbloc products perform to the same specification, performance, quality and aesthetic characteristics as 100% cement versions. This includes fire resistance as standard and the same U values as a traditional cement block. To back up our carbon reduction claims, we also have 3rd party verified Environmental Product Declarations (EPD’s), which we have produced to stand behind our product and take the lead on ultra-low carbon design advancements.

Furthermore, in support of the UK concrete and cement industry’s Roadmap to Beyond Net Zero, which sets out a clear route towards decarbonisation, CCP have been working in partnership with Carbon8 undertaking trials which combine our Greenbloc Technology with Carbon8’s CircaBuild aggregates, resulting in the production of cement-free, carbon-negative concrete blocks.

At CCP our aim is to support and guide all our customers in choosing sustainable concrete products and we have launched a range of marketing support material specifically designed for our trade customers, which details our low carbon Greenbloc product range, so that you are equipped with the tools to sell to your customers.

For further information, contact the team today on 01978 799070 or email ccp@ccp.ltd.