UK concrete’s green action

By Sandy Guthrie24 January 2011

The UK concrete industry has been praised by a government minister for its environmental credentials and commitment to sustainability, at the launch of the annual Concrete Sustainability Performance Report.

The praise came from Mark Prisk MP, UK Minister for Business & Innovation. The report is produced on behalf of the Sustainable Concrete Forum, which acts as the steering group for sustainable construction across the concrete supply sector. It is supported by the UK Concrete Industry and the representative trade associations and companies who have signed up to the Concrete Industry Sustainable Construction Strategy.

The Minister said, "I am really impressed by how the concrete industry has taken positive action and initiative not only to reduce carbon emissions but also to produce cleaner products and reduce waste. This last achievement is one that the industry should take particular pride in for it now uses more waste than it produces."

The report is the third from the Sustainable Concrete Forum following in the 2008 agreement between the nine sectors within the UK concrete industry to commit to a pan-industry sustainability strategy. It is hoped that this plan will result, by 2012, in the industry being recognised as the leader in sustainable construction "by taking a dynamic role in delivering a sustainable built environment in a manner that is profitable, socially responsible and functions within environmental limits".

This latest report is based upon 2009 production data and reports on 16 performance indicators and targets. The development of performance indicators and achievement of targets is overseen by the Sustainable Concrete Forum, which is dedicated to implementing the strategy.

The concrete industry claims to be the first sector to link its sustainable construction materials strategy to the responsible sourcing standard developed by BRE, BES 6001 - "Framework Standard for the Responsible Sourcing of Construction Materials".

The Sustainable Concrete Forum said that to date, 81% of UK concrete production was now responsibly sourced to BES 6001, thereby enabling designers easily to source certified materials and gain maximum credits in sustainability tools such as the Code for Sustainable Homes and BREEAM.

The industry claims to have exceeded a number of environmental targets including the reduction of greenhouse gases and energy performance. It said there had been an almost 18% reduction of CO2 emissions for concrete production since 1990, exceeding the 2012 target.

This has been achieved by the substitution of fossil fuels with waste-derived fuels in cement manufacturing and by the use of recycled and low carbon constituent materials - subject to their availability and suitability.

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