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Can the Concrete Jungle Sink CO2?*

If you can build it there, you can build it anywhere – New York – New York!

In an effort to enable New York to meet its climate goals, it is working on a program to reduce industrial emissions. (And of course, they want to do that in a New York minute!)

The pending bill is NY A08617, “AN ACT to amend the state finance law, in relation to requiring low embodied carbon concrete be used in state projects and creating a preferential standard for concrete implementing CO2 capture and utilization technologies; and to amend the tax law, in relation to establishing the environmental product declaration tax credit.”

This proposed legislation would “require that carbon emissions from concrete become the determining factor, after cost and structural considerations, when selecting bids for state contracts.”

The passage of this bill would provide an incentive to suppliers to measure how much CO2 their mixes emit, with the goal of accelerating the development of affordable, carbon-sinking concrete options.

As stated in the excellent analysis by Reena Shad in The American Prospect:

“Governments are the largest purchasers of concrete. By changing the procurement process of the country’s third-largest economy, the bill hopes to cause a ripple effect, as suppliers sell cleaner products to other markets. It would also launch the state on a path to reduce industrial emissions while continuing to decarbonize electrification.’Everyone knows that producing more renewable energy is better than burning more fossil fuels,’ says Assembly Member Robert Carroll, the bill’s sponsor. ‘But most people don’t know the difference between cement and concrete or how carbon-intensive they are to create. It’s a huge issue if we’re going tackle climate change.'”

The article spotlights a number of manufacturers that are producing low-carbon concrete mixes, including:
~ CO2Concrete. Their website states: “The CO2Concrete technology turns carbon dioxide emissions into CO2Concrete™ products that can replace traditional concrete, with a much lower CO2 footprint. The technology is based on the concept of “CO2 mineralization” – the conversion of gaseous CO2 into solid mineral carbonates (e.g., CaCO3) within the CO2Concrete™ products.”

The company was recently featured in an excellent article in the LATIMES entitled: “Turning carbon into concrete could win UCLA team a climate victory — and $7.5 million”
An interesting datapoint noted in the article: “Studies suggest that, in a best-case scenario, converting carbon into useful goods could mitigate 1% to 15% of global emissions, and a 2019 report by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine affirmed that it could help tackle climate change by turning a pollutant into profit.”

~ Planet Blue, whose mission, as stated on their website reads: “To develop and commercialize a scalable solution for CO2 mitigation that is both economically and technically sustainable.”
*Title from article in The American Prospect.

~CarbonCure: Their website states: “From Carbon to Simply Better Concrete.
CarbonCure manufactures a technology for concrete producers that introduces recycled CO2 into fresh concrete. In a process known as CO2 mineralization, the CO2 is converted to a mineral and becomes permanently captured. This enables production efficiences as well as carbon footprint reductions.”

~Carbon Upcycling Technologies (CUT): “CUT is working to flip the script on carbon. We have collectively puzzled over ways to capture and neutralize CO2. We aim to go one step further. CUT envisions a world where CO2 is our ally in contributing to carbon negative future.”

The article concludes with this statement: “Still, changing the way a large state like New York procures concrete is a gargantuan task that involves multiple state agencies and reversing decades of standard practice. Comparing functional performance, environmental performance, and cost is a complicated process with no one-size-fits-all-projects solution. There’s also the question of whether suppliers will take kindly to an EPD mandate and preferential treatment for carbon-cutting companies. And yet, for New York to meet its climate goals, as well as the nation and the world, addressing industrial emissions is paramount. According to Simonen, who’s been leading the charge on lowering embodied emissions for over a decade, waiting is not really an option. ‘We simply don’t have time to approach this in a linear fashion.’”

Stay tuned for more industry-initiated #concreteinnovations.

*Can the Concrete Jungle Sink CO2?