New guide: Concrete: A Pragmatic Approach to Lowering Embodied Carbon

September 12, 2023

Tackling embodied carbon is critical to address the climate crisis and minimize the overall footprint of the built environment. Fast + Epp was proud to contribute to “Concrete: A Pragmatic Approach to Lowering Embodied Carbon,” a free, publicly available guide for owners and project teams in British Columbia to evaluate and implement low-carbon concrete as a solution.

The guide outlines steps for project teams at every phase of the design process, including many cost-effective strategies to reduce the global warming impact of concrete. These clear and actionable steps are intended to aid project teams in reducing the embodied carbon of any project utilizing concrete.


Among the Report Key Takeaways

  • Collaboration: Effective collaboration among project teams from the start is critical to success, as is ensuring all key decision makers are involved.
  • Start Early: Setting carbon reduction goals early allows for the evaluation of a greater number of opportunities to reduce the embodied carbon of concrete (though it’s not too late for projects already in design to optimize concrete mix design).
  • Cost Effective: Strategies, including concrete mix optimization, can be implemented with no or negligible added project cost.
  • Reduce Concrete Volumes: Utilizing less concrete volume per floor area, leading to lower overall embodied carbon, can be accomplished through designing a more efficient structural system. The guide highlights strategies for volume reduction, including:
    • Evaluation of alternative structural systems
    • Reduction of parkade levels
    • Optimizing structural design to minimize transfer slabs
  • Optimize Mix Design: Concrete mix design optimization, including altering the amount of Supplementary Cementitious Materials (SCMs) in a given mix, can minimize cement and significantly reduce the embodied carbon of a given concrete mix.

Thanks to our co-authors ZGF Architects, EllisDon, and Lafarge Canada.

Download the guide.