A reflection on the Fresh Concrete innovation series

25 Jul 2022

The Concrete Centre and The Building Centre have a long history! Our collaboration has resulted in a string of successful events stretching back over 15 years, notably the highly successful Concrete Elegance series, with ‘Fresh Concrete’ representing the very latest offering. 

Launched in March 2022, Fresh Concrete is a series of talks, created to showcase some of the innovative practice and new types of concrete emerging to address climate mitigation and adaptation. It was conceived as a platform for knowledge sharing for all construction professionals, bringing a fresh approach and fresh thinking for concrete.

Due to the changing landscape of events, following the various Covid lockdowns, it also represented a break from the traditional venue-based events in that it was fully online. The series attracted more than 1800 registrations in total, with over 800 people logged in to attend live, many taking the opportunity to submit questions direct to the speakers during the event. Those who missed the live event were able to catch up via the recordings. 

The series was structured around the themes of innovative forms of concrete, construction, manufacture, and uses of concrete. Each of the four monthly, live events comprised of two speakers, each of whom I introduced to set the context for the innovations featured. The recordings were edited to create eight individual videos which are now available as an online resource on both The Concrete Centre and Building Centre YouTube channels. Since they have become available watching figures have exceeded 200, and counting.  

Fresh Concrete 1 had a theme of carbon-sequestering concrete, and I was joined by Eric Dunford, Senior Director of CarbonCure and Cindy McLaughlin, Head of Product of CarbonBuilt. The innovations were joint winners of the 2021 NRG Cosia Carbon XPrize and each demonstrate a different way in which concrete can be manufactured using CO2, reducing both the embodied carbon of the concrete and also permanently locking in captured CO2 emissions.  

In Fresh Concrete 2, Glen Rust, R&D Engineering Leader of Laing O’Rourke presented De & Re-constructable modular concrete structures, as one example of new thinking to support the principles of circular economy. 3D printing was selected as the other innovative form of construction using concrete, and featured Natalie Wadley, Director of ChangeMaker3D. 

‘New uses for concrete’ was the theme of Fresh Concrete 3 featuring a talk on Self-healing low carbon concrete by Vighnesh Daas, Director, JP Concrete and also concrete technology developed to recharge electric vehicles in motion, presented by Mauricio Esguerra, Co-Founder & CEO, Magment.  

‘Innovative concrete manufacture’ was represented by Digitised concrete, intelligent, in-transit, real time concrete management presented by Phillip White – Fonder of Cloud Cycle. He was joined in Fresh Concrete 4 by Alex McDermott, Co-founder, Nationwide Engineering who explained the benefits and deployment of the graphene-enhanced liquid admixture Concretene
It has been a huge privilege to be able to host and curate this series, but also a challenging one. Narrowing the selection down to just eight was tough! There are just SO MANY exciting projects, products and processes being developed to choose from, many of which are excellent examples of how the making and use of concrete continues to evolve to address the needs of the built environment – and in particular the challenge of addressing climate change impacts.   

Myself and colleagues at The Concrete Centre will continue to share innovation and new development through the various platforms available, including Concrete Futures publications and events and the Concrete Quarterly magazine innovation articles. But we also hope to be able to continue working with the Building Centre to share the work of others via more Fresh Concrete talks in the future. 
Written by Elaine Toogood, Director, Architecture and Sustainable Design at The Concrete Centre

Concrete innovation resources

Concrete Futures magazine: Decarb Nation