Laing O’Rourke to use low-carbon concrete on all new UK projects

By Catrin Jones11 April 2023

Laing O’Rourke has announced that it is mandating the use of low-carbon concrete on all new projects beginning construction on or after 1 April 2023. This is said to result in a significant reduction in the company’s scope 3 carbon emissions, accelerating the company’s progress towards its net-zero targets.

concrete being poured on a construction site The change will be introduced with immediate effect (Photo: AdobeStock)

The decision follows a long-term research programme co-funded by Laing O’Rourke and Innovate UK, and in collaboration with the University of Cambridge and Sheffield University’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC). A range of low-carbon concrete options have been successfully tested and proven as a like-for-like substitute for traditional concrete.

The change will be introduced with immediate effect, and all new projects starting main construction on or after 1 April 2023 will exclusively use low-carbon concrete. Laing O’Rourke estimates that the overall carbon reduction will be 28% when compared with the company’s concrete usage in 2022. 

Laing O’Rourke’s low-carbon concrete uses lower-carbon alternatives to Portland cement, including GGBS (Ground Granulated Blast-furnace Slag) and PFA (Pulverised Fly Ash), both of which are industrial by-products with a much lower carbon footprint. The company recognizes that this is the first step in a longer journey to decarbonisation and its ongoing research program focuses on wider-scale deployment of cement-free options, which are ultra-low carbon.

Cathal O’Rourke, Laing O’Rourke’s newly appointed Chief Operating Officer, said, “We’ve committed to being a net zero company before 2050 and we are looking at every possible measure to accelerate our progress. In construction, the greatest challenge is reducing scope 3 emissions – the embodied carbon in purchased materials.

“Reducing all carbon emissions is a priority for our business. The built environment makes a significant contribution to global warming and constructors must work with clients and design partners to deploy new technologies and innovations that make modern methods the norm and enable us to build in less carbon intensive ways.”

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