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Manufacturer Focuses on Sustainable Solutions for the Future

JOHN KELLERMAN / Alamy Stock Photo New ideas are shaping the future of the concrete industry as the sector pushes toward sustainability.
A new push toward sustainability is dominating industry trends. One company, CTS Cement Manufacturing Corp., is trying to make sure it stays on the cutting edge.

As the industry positions itself to address concerns about sustainability, CTS Cement Manufacturing Corp. is working to stay on the cutting edge of the trends toward reducing carbon footprints.

Director of Strategic Initiatives & Komponent Sales Susan Foster-Goodman is responsible for the shrinkage-compensating concrete piece of the company’s business.

“The industry is really focused, in every way, on looking at the carbon footprint,” she said. “Look at sustainability and how do we preserve the planet we’re all so accustomed to for future generations.”

Foster-Goodman said concrete is the second most consumed material on the planet, behind water. “So, it does have a substantial impact on the environment,” she said. “And we have a huge opportunity within the concrete industry, whatever our roles may be, to really influence a better, safer, more sustainable built environment.”

She said most industry initiatives are focused on achieving net-zero, carbon-neutral designs by 2050. “At the end of the day, it requires change, and change doesn’t come quickly in the construction industry,” she said.

When it comes to minimizing CO2 emissions, Foster-Goodman said every aspect of the industry is being evaluated, like the possibility of using alternative fuels for the manufacture of cement. She said these goals should be achieved without sacrificing durability of the finished product.

“If we’re going to extend design life and asset life, we’ve got to improve the quality along the way, not reduce it,” she said.

According to Foster-Goodman, a trend that’s coming “hard and fast” has been the widescale transition to the use of cleaner Portland limestone cement and using more fly ash, slag cement, and other supplementary cementitious materials.

There are “a lot of moving parts” as the industry tries to emphasize durable designs while taking sustainability into account, she noted.

She explained that recycled carbon, which involves capturing carbon that’s produced during the manufacturing process and then infusing it into concrete just prior to placement, is one way the industry could reduce its footprint.

Type K cement, which has been around for decades, has also found new use in the hopes of reducing the industry’s environmental impact as a replacement for additives like fly ash. She said that reducing concrete's reinforcement needs could have a benficial impact on sustainability efforts by therefore reducing the weight of transport loads.

“You can start to see where the design flexibility of shrinkage compensated concrete can really give the industry a nice solution and the designer some flexibility in how they’re approaching designs,” she said.

Foster-Goodman said the ongoing industry initiatives are likely a matter of survival for companies involved in the business of concrete. She said companies that don’t make the transition to more sustainable models could fall by the wayside or be consumed by other corporations that are achieving success with sustainable initiatives.

“I think it’s going to require change to sustain the business dynamics over time,” she said.

Foster-Goodman said becoming more sustainable now is a main focus for the future.

"This is the challenge for the industry," she said. "But it's a great industry. Everyone's committed to the goal, we just have to work together to overcome our own resistance to change."

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