The complexity of the concrete industry is a fact that is not lost on Dr. Andrea Schokker, the new executive director at the NEU: An ACI Center of Excellence for Carbon Neutral Concrete.
Her new role, which officially begins in July, will oversee efforts by ACI’s new center to change the industry by reducing its overall contributions to greenhouse gasses.
According to ACI, Dr. Schokker will lead all NEU activities along with recruiting partners willing to assist in mitigating the concrete industry’s carbon footprint.
“I think everybody at this point realizes we got to do something about the climate issues that we’re facing,” Schokker told WOC360.com. “We know that the concrete industry, particularly cement, have a part to play in that.”
Schokker said concrete, as a resource, is the second most-consumed material only second to water in terms of volume.
“This is not something that we can do without concrete,” she said.
Schokker said NEU plans to undertake a multipronged approach that includes increasing understanding of available supplemental cementitious materials, helping to prioritize areas that need further research and testing, along with consumer education about what’s coming to the market in the next six months.
She said the NEU was first established by the American Concrete Institute in 2022, and Schokker said she has received a huge response since the ACI convention in Orlando.
NEU, based in Michigan, “collaborates globally to drive research, education, awareness, and adoption of the use of carbon-neutral materials and technologies in the built environment, leveraging ACI’s role as a world-leading authority and resource for the development, dissemination, and adoption of consensus-based standards for concrete design, construction, and materials.”
According to NEU, the center’s membership is open to government agencies, industries, technical societies, standard bodies, manufacturers, contractors, and professionals.
“There’s big excitement from all the different facets of our industry,” Schokker said.
Schokker said the center’s creation is long overdue and that companies, producers, and specifying agencies have been trying to solve this issue on their own.
“The fact is that things are changing with or without us,” she said.
Schokker said the industry has an interest in being ahead of the curb on the sustainability issue because the industry could get a say in shaping regulations that will be implemented in the future. She said some areas have already begun requiring green concrete construction.
Schokker said that by being involved, the industry can make sure requirements being put in place are “ones that work.”
“We got to change the culture around concrete and cement,” she said.