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The Irish government announce green procurement requirements for low carbon cement

Published by , Editorial Assistant
World Cement,

On 28 May 2024, the Irish government took a bold step towards a more sustainable future by mandating green procurement requirements for low carbon cement.

The Irish government announce green procurement requirements for low carbon cement

This landmark decision marks a significant milestone in the journey towards developing a net-zero carbon society by 2050, as outlined in the national policy position.

Cement accounts for almost 5% of total national emissions in Ireland and almost 8% globally. Since clinker is the source of over 90% of emissions from cement, and cement in Ireland currently averages almost 85% clinker, this is a significant shift and sends a clear message to the construction industry to invest in low carbon products.

What this means for the industry

Ecocem has been at the forefront of advocating for low carbon solutions in the cement and concrete sector in Ireland for many years. The new mandate requires a 30% clinker substitution in concrete for all government and public works projects, alongside the phase-out of high clinker cement. This visionary step not only aligns with the ambitious targets set out in Climate Action Plan 2024, it also provides the necessary momentum for the industry to innovate and transition to lower carbon limits.

The four key objectives of Green Procurement Requirement:

  • Do more with less, by using less concrete and less cement, by designing, specifying, and managing products on site better.
  • Specify lower carbon concrete.
  • Specify lower carbon cement.
  • Introduce broader Carbon Management systems for large infrastructure projects.

The role of GGBS and low carbon cement technologies

Ecocem's flagship product, GGBS, is key to achieving these new standards. It is currently the best available technology for reducing clinker levels in concrete, significantly lowering embodied carbon emissions. By incorporating GGBS into concrete mixes, the company can substantially decrease the carbon content, contributing to the overall target of reducing embodied carbon in construction materials by at least 30% today. With the government’s support, the company is poised to lead the charge in supplying low carbon cement solutions that meet these new procurement requirements.

The next stage of development of this procurement strategy will put carbon limits on concrete, leading to a further reduction in carbon per cubic metre. ACT, Ecocem’s next generation scalable low carbon cement technology has recently received European Technical Approval (ETA). It will be commercially available from 2026 and will provide the concrete industry with a new solution to meet the next phase of government requirements.

Building a sustainable future

The establishment of the Cement and Construction Sector Decarbonisation Working Group by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (DETE) reflects a cohesive and rigorous approach to implementing these ambitious goals. This initiative will unite public sector stakeholders, driving forward practical steps to reduce embodied carbon emissions through innovative procurement approaches.

Ireland is now at the forefront of public policy for cement decarbonisation in Europe. This is the moment to lead by example and demonstrate the country's commitment to a sustainable future. The introduction of carbon disclosure requirements, development of carbon databases, and implementation of economic incentives are crucial steps in this journey.

As momentum continues to build, Ecocem is committed to investing in research, innovation, and the commercialisation of new low carbon materials and ACT technology.

The opportunities the Green Procurement Requirements provide for the industry are exciting. By embracing these changes and continuing to innovate, the path for a greener, more sustainable construction industry can be paved. Together, the standard for low carbon cement solutions will be set, driving forward a future where sustainable construction is the norm.

Susan McGarry, Director of Public Affairs and Sustainability at Ecocem, said: "Responsible for almost 5% of Ireland’s emissions, the cement sector has a major role to play in decarbonising the construction industry. Public procurement requirements on the use of low carbon cement are essential to ensure sustainable delivery of Ireland’s infrastructure. At Ecocem, we have long been calling for mandatory use of low carbon cements, which have enormous potential to reduce emissions at scale, and the government’s mandatory target of 30% reduction in clinker is a solid start on which we as an industry can build.

"Low carbon cement technology is available to be deployed immediately, offering a scalable, cost-efficient solution to cement and concrete’s carbon problem. The responsibility now lies with public sector decision makers to engage with the private sector in its efforts to reduce the carbon impact of construction."

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