Low carbon: concrete is essential to deliver thermal mass and energy efficiency

The superior thermal performance properties of concrete can provide considerable in-use energy savings over the lifetime of buildings. The energy used in the operation of our homes and buildings is greater than the energy locked in the building fabric.

Residential buildings alone are responsible for 25% of UK greenhouse gas emissions. Using housing as an example, the operational CO2 associated with concrete and masonry homes can offset their slightly higher embodied CO2 in just over a decade of use. Find out more

These energy savings are possible beacuse of the inherent thermal mass of concrete. Thermal mass is a concept in building design that describes how the mass of the building provides inertia against internal temperature fluctuations. This is typically achieved through its ability to absorb unwanted heat during the day and release it at night with the help of ventilation from the cool night air. Find out more

Designers can also influence the carbon of concrete, through specification and design. Arup research shows that a designer can assist in reducing a typically sized building’s eCO2 by as much as 100kgCO2/m2 which, for a 10,000m2 building, equates to the personal eCO2 of a lifetime of goods and services for a UK citizen. Read more.

The concrete industry is also reducing its embodied carbon. CO2 emissions from the manufacture of concrete are reducing. In the eight years the industry has been publishing performance data there has been an 7 per cent improvement in energy efficiency and a 16 per cent reduction in carbon intensity. 2015 data resulted in 73.8 kg of CO2 per tonne of concrete, based on the standardised mix. The target for 2020 is to reduce this figure further to 71.8kg of CO2 per tonne, which equates to an overall 30 per cent reduction from the 1990 baseline. Read the latest report.