Reducing Embodied Carbon in Concrete

Specifying Portland-limestone cement makes a significant difference
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Sponsored by Holcim (US) Inc.
By Peter J. Arsenault, FAIA, NCARB, LEED-AP


Concrete has been shown to be a versatile, durable, building material. While it has historically evolved in terms of make-up and embodied energy use, the current state of the industry is focused on improving performance while reducing environmental impact. Efforts like the 2030 Challenge for Embodied Carbon are helping to provide awareness and reliable information on processes and strategies to reduce embodied carbon. The growing use of Type IL Portland-limestone cement has emerged as a key strategy to achieve the goal of reducing carbon while maintaining performance. The use of environmental product declarations and life-cycle assessments on PLC based concrete can help contribute to green building design and certification. Coupled with SCMs, it is possible to design with and specify PLC concrete that performs fully as desired while reducing the embodied carbon content notably. By embracing these strategies, architects and engineers can not only make a difference in their own projects, they can also help drive the market for more widespread use of these proven alternatives.

Peter J. Arsenault, FAIA, NCARB, LEED-AP, is a nationally known architect, consultant, and a prolific continuing education author advancing embodied carbon reduction through better specifying. ,


Holcim (US) Inc. Holcim (US) Inc., is one of the world’s leading suppliers of sustainably manufactured cementitious materials. The Holcim Awards for Sustainable Construction promotes and supports the innovative solutions of architects for the future built environment with $2 million in prize money.


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Originally published in Architectural Record
Originally published in September 2021