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ConcreteZero: Paving a data-led net zero way

21 June 2024, 11:19 UTC 4 min read

Data holds the key to change. And what industry is better placed to benefit from transformative change than the concrete industry? With concrete production and use accounting for 7% of global greenhouse gas emissions, decarbonisation is fast turning into an industry priority. Businesses worldwide, including our ConcreteZero members, today are committed to reducing the carbon footprint of their concrete supply chains. Fast.

But how can companies accurately pinpoint where emissions occur within their value chain, and subsequently, when and where they need to take decisive action? This is where data accuracy, transparency and accountability play a pivotal role in driving the concrete industry towards a net zero future.

Navigating complex supply chains 

Concrete supply chains are intricate, spanning multiple stages from raw material extraction to the final product used in construction. The finished material – concrete – is made up several ingredients, which each come with their own supply chain, and crucially, emissions.  

Adding to this, precise data around business-level concrete use and concrete mix carbon intensity is not always readily available due to a lack of communication across the value chain. As an example, contractors and construction engineers do not always talk to each other.  

This implies a complexity when assessing concrete use and the associated emissions. Achieving transparency around this data however is essential. By unlocking the potential for corporate leadership, we can drive the net zero transition in the concrete industry. 

We can only reduce what we measure by enabling reporting best practice. Our work with ConcreteZero members is a testament to this principle. By aiming to enable comprehensive data transparency across the industry, we support businesses in their decarbonisation efforts.

'Byrne Bros is proud to have participated in ConcreteZero's reporting trial, a pivotal initiative driving industry standardization and alignment in concrete carbon data collection and tracking practices. Our involvement not only highlights our dedication to reducing carbon emissions but also reinforces our role as leaders in the transition to more sustainable concrete. Members of ConcreteZero are committed to fostering collaboration among all stakeholders, from developers to engineers to contractors, ensuring that our collective efforts lead to meaningful carbon reduction initiatives. By setting clear behavioural norms and promoting transparency in our operations, we aim to lead by example and encourage the entire industry to follow suit.'

Adam Green, Group Environmental & Sustainability Manager at Byrne Bros  

Kicking off ConcreteZero reporting 

ConcreteZero requires members to commit to 100% use of net zero concrete by 2050, with an interim goal of using lower emission concrete for 50% of their needs by 2030, and an interim commitment of 30% lower emission concrete by 2025. Reporting with these commitments in mind is crucial for effectively tracking progress and making informed decisions aiding decarbonisation efforts.  

Last year we asked our members to measure and report their emissions for the first time, ever. This marks a worldwide first step towards reporting standardisation and improved information flows across the market.  

To participate in our reporting trial, members reviewed their concrete procurement, sourced data around how much concrete they used, and, most critically, requested emissions data from their suppliers. This was a great first step.

It’s a great start – now onto the next step 

So, what were insights did this first comprehensive reporting phase yield? The first was that the data exists, but established industry practices regarding its collection and information sharing across the value chain can be lacking.  

We need businesses to showcase a unified commitment to rigorously and continuously analyse this data, and to recognise its pivotal role in driving essential decarbonisation change. The next step is to embed these best practices within the organization and then extend them across the value chain.  

So, what’s ConcreteZero role in this? We help our members to systematically examine the data, define minimum standards, and collectively establish and apply the rules of engagement. By establishing parameters, a methodology and framework we are setting a standard for best practices.

“Through ConcreteZero Sisk have joined a global initiative which is driving change in reducing emissions of concrete used within the construction industry. Collaboration between members has been key to the initial success of ConcreteZero with the results of the reporting framework showcasing how the industry is performing in relation to using low carbon concrete. The next steps for Sisk will be embedding the reporting framework into our design processes allowing our internal teams, clients and designers to have accurate information on the embodied carbon within concrete used on individual projects.” 

Keith O'Flynn, Group Supply Chain Sustainability Manager Ireland, UK & Europe at Sisk

More than transparency: Setting industry standards 

The bold power of data goes beyond mere transparency for the sake of transparency – it signals a stark market shift to producers. Continuous and collaborative monitoring, measuring, and reporting can lead to real changes in concrete supply chains. By establishing standards and frameworks for data disclosure, we illuminate the path to achieving transparency and decarbonising the industry.  

ConcreteZero members are advocating for full emissions data transparency and defining supplier requirements to meet their commitments at the same time. Industry-wide alignment on definitions, procurement requirements and supplier data provision is crucial. Our reporting framework facilitates this. This shared understanding will drive focused and timely action, facilitating the global concrete industry’s decarbonisation. 

The reporting framework not only informs transparency but also validates broader market performance and highlights business opportunities. We need this data to optimise the performance of currently available solutions and to design strategies to achieve the maximum reduction in emissions possible today. 

Leading the charge in decarbonisation 

ConcreteZero members truly are leading the pack. They are dedicated to reducing emissions, demonstrating decarbonisation leadership. With numerous leading businesses committed to reporting essential data, we've taken the first step to increased data transparency and more informed decision-making.  

Yet our work also highlighted barriers needed to be addressed to further decarbonise the industry. Overcoming these challenges and creating aligned frames of reference will be instrumental in driving the rapid industry transformation we need to see.  

ConcreteZero helps foster the collaboration across concrete value chains, which will lead to the transformative industry change, and associated reduced emissions imperative for our planet’s future.  

Visit our homepage to find out more about our ConcreteZero work.