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Can concrete be green?

and updated in January 2023

Jean-Michel Torrenti, Scientific coordinator of the science topic, Gustave Eiffel University

Consumption of concrete currently stands at three tonnes per person per year, making it the world’s most used manufactured material, and this figure continues to rise, fuelled by emerging countries. It behaves like liquid rock at ambient temperatures, making it uniquely straightforward to use and therefore difficult to replace. In France more than 80% of our buildings are made of concrete.

Its generalized use is not without impacts, for example on CO2 emissions, mainly due to the manufacture of cement, or the production of mineral wastes after deconstruction.

In this context, it is urgent to explore possible ways of producing green concrete. First, our scientists are working on re-using demolition concrete as aggregates, developing ways of treating the con crete that trap the CO2 in order to improve the quality of the aggregates and the total life cycle emissions of the material. For the more distant future, they are also working on materials that can replace Portland cement, which is the “glue” used in present-day concrete.

Before these new cements and concretes can be used on an industrial scale they must be tested and accepted by the construction sector and demonstrate that they are compatible with modern construction techniques.

In this context, it is urgent to explore possible ways of producing green concrete.



Concrete. An essential material, which continues to adapt to the times

The search for new substitute  materials for ciment

The physics of materials for low environmental impact cements

Exploring the possibilities of aggregate

Capturing CO2 within the materials

Identity card of the science topic

Title  :Can concrete be green?
Coordinator:Jean-Michel Torrenti
Authors:Jean-Michel Torrenti, Henri Van Damme, Nicolas Roussel, Hela Bessaies-Bey, Mickaël Thiéry
Collection:IFSTTAR Sciences topics
Version:PDF for free download in web and print versions
Licence:Creative Common CC BY-SA 4.0
Publication:Published on february 2013 and updated in november 2018
Languages:French and english
Keywords:Innovation, materials and structures, ecology, green concrete, Ifsttar science topics