BOULDER, Colo. (KDVR) — Behind water, concrete is the most consumed material in the world. But what people may not realize is that behind the creation of concrete is the carbon cost of high emissions.
Studies estimate the process to create concrete results in 8-10% of total global carbon emissions. Because it is a significant chunk of the carbon pie, some see it as an opportunity to tweak the equation of how the material is made to cut emissions.
“It’s inherently distributed and it’s inherently local,” said the acting director of the 4 Corners Carbon Coalition, Ramon Alatorre. “Concrete needs to be produced about 50 miles from whatever site it can be utilized, so if we can show some of the interesting and innovative things we can do with concrete in our own backyard, it is inherently replicable.”
The coalition consists of Boulder County, Flagstaff, Salt Lake City and Santa Fe. The concept is to pool grant money in projects that have a sustainable focus on cutting carbon emissions. The coalition awarded $389,000 in funding to four different projects focused on removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in creating concrete.
Colorado is the eighth-largest consumer of concrete in the country, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
CarbonBuilt, one of the companies selected, cuts carbon emissions through the process by substituting cement in the concrete with calcium-rich waste materials. Instead of curing the cement in a traditional way, by pumping in steam from natural gas, they pump CO2 at ambient pressure into a chamber, which binds with the material to create limestone, hardening the concrete and storing the carbon dioxide in the material.