The New Zealand concrete industry is halfway towards meeting its target of a 30% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2030, spelling good news for landscapers facing increasing demand for sustainable products and construction methods
ThinkStep, an independent auditor and Australian sustainability consultancy, released a review last month that found the New Zealand concrete industry is well placed to meet climate change commitments the New Zealand government signed up to under the Paris Climate Agreement.
Concrete New Zealand (NZ) chief executive Rob Gaimster says the industry is fully committed to becoming net carbon neutral by the Government’s target date of 2050.
“The independent review confirmed that the New Zealand concrete industry has reduced its emissions from cement by 15% between 2005 and 2018,” said Gaimster. ”Our initiatives to reduce cement’s carbon footprint have avoided about 400,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions in 2018 alone.”
These reductions occurred despite demand increasing by 13% over the same period, and were achieved through a range of measures, including using waste products such as wood biomass to fuel cement kilns.
Concrete NZ’s Sustainability Committee recently met with Climate Change Minister James Shaw to share the ThinkStep results and discuss concrete’s role in transitioning to a net zero carbon New Zealand by 2050.
“A game changer for the industry here in New Zealand is that we have naturally occurring minerals available which can be used to replace a percentage of cement clinker, which is the main ingredient of concrete production associated with carbon dioxide emissions,” said Gaimster.
“Waste from other industries can also be used to lower the cement clinker content in concrete and help to significantly reduce concrete’s carbon footprint.
“At the same time, moving to new technologies, such as more energy efficient equipment and vehicles to produce and transport concrete, is part of our plan to be net carbon neutral by 2050.”
Gaimster said concrete is the second most consumed substance in the world after water and is central to supporting communities and economies globally.
“Our kids walk to school on concrete footpaths, they learn in schools that rest on concrete foundations, we receive
healthcare in hospitals built from concrete, and many of us work in concrete buildings.
“Concrete also underpins our water and sewerage systems and will be crucial in the development of low-energy infrastructure that includes electricity generation and public transport.
“As we adapt to climate change and our planet warms, concrete will offer protection against fire and floods, while its mass will help regulate the internal temperature of buildings to reduce our reliance on energy-intensive air conditioning.”
Gaimster also pointed to the environmental benefits of concrete.
“Concrete structures act as carbon sinks, can be recycled, redesigned and repurposed, require little maintenance, and don’t rot or burn.
“Our industry knows how important concrete is to everyone’s future wellbeing. That’s why we’re working so hard to reduce our carbon footprint and maximise the benefits of concrete.”