The Role of Concrete in Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Emission Reductions of the U.S.’s Buildings and Pavements

Thursday, August 20, 2020 at 11:00am to 12:00pm

Virtual Event

Concrete is critical to achieving societal sustainability goals. Its unique attributes make it the most used building material and because of this its environmental footprint is subject to significant scrutiny. Thus, the challenge of sustainable development is manifested in the use of concrete: accomplishing societal goals while minimizing environmental impacts. Concrete is a critical component of deep decarbonization efforts because it impacts the building, transportation, and industrial sectors.

This presentation will show results from an effort at the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub to contextualize the role of concrete in life cycle greenhouse gas emission (GHG) reductions of the United States’ buildings and pavements. We use a bottom-up model of current and future building and pavement stocks and construction in the US to analyze GHG reduction strategies under projected and ambitious scenarios, including embodied and use phases of the structures’ life cycle. We show that projected improvements in the building sector result in a reduction of 47% of GHG emissions in 2050 relative to 2016 levels, whereas ambitious improvements result in a 56% reduction in 2050, which is approximately 1 Gt. The pavements sector shows a larger difference between the two scenarios with a 13% reduction of GHG emissions for projected improvements and a 50% reduction under the ambitious scenario, which is approximately 70 Mt. Over 70% of future emissions from new building and pavement construction are from the use phase.

This webinar will be presented by CSHub Executive Director Jeremy Gregory.

The MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub (CSHub) webinar series offers information of general interest to members of the building, paving, and construction communities, as well as to educators, students, journalists, and law and policy-makers interested in the environmental and economic impacts of decision-making concerning infrastructure. Videos of past webinars are archived to the CSHub YouTube Channel.

Webinars are free and open to the public. Presentations are geared toward a lay audience.

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Events By Interest


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Public, MIT Community, Students, Alumni, Faculty, Staff

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School of Engineering (SoE)


Sustainability, webinar, Infrastructure




Concrete Sustainability Hub
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