Sustainable Construction

Sustainable construction materials with a small CO2 footprint are playing an ever more important role for us and our customers. We use special additives in order to improve the CO2 balance of the products based on our Portland cement.

These alternative materials, which are waste products from steel mills and coal-fired power plants, partially replace Portland cement clinker in the production of "composite cement". We have also been working for several years to develop alternative binding materials that almost completely eliminate the need for conventional clinker.

The use of by-products from other industries for the production of clinker and cement or the recycling of concrete from demolished structures enable us to manufacture concrete more sustainably.

Dr. Christian Artelt, Sustainable Construction Manager

Research and Development

Of course, at HeidelbergCement we are also working to develop new products. One of the areas of focus of the activities at our central research laboratory in Leimen, Germany, and our product innovation laboratory in Bergamo, Italy, was the development of products with a better carbon footprint and improved performance in terms of the energy efficiency of buildings. We have developed various alternatives to traditional cement with reduced environmental impact, such as Ternocem®, an innovative belite calciumsulfoaluminate ternesite cement, or composite cements with a significantly lower clinker content.

Alternative raw materials

Many of these alternative products come from waste materials produced in other sectors of industry. In this way, we make an active contribution to improving the circular economy. Several products have been field-tested in pilot applications and a few of these have already been marketed. We are also continuing to work on products that support the energy transition, such as Powercrete®, a special concrete with exceptionally high thermal conductivity, which allows high-voltage cables to be laid underground.

Our commitment to the circular economy is also reflected in our involvement in the Dutch concrete recycling company Rewinn B.V., Amsterdam, which we established together with our local partner Theo Pouw BV, Utrecht, Netherlands. We are in a position to produce up to 250,000 tonnes of aggregates from recycled concrete per year. These are already used in numerous applications, such as the production of fresh concrete.

Commitment to sustainable construction

As a founding member of the Concrete Sustainability Council, we played a leading role in the development of a certification system for sustainably produced concrete, which was introduced at the beginning of 2017 and has been continuously developed since then. Additional concrete plants in Poland, Italy, and Turkey were certified in 2019. With the certification of concrete, taking into account social, economic, and environmental aspects along the value chain, we expect to see greater acceptance of the product and the entire industry.

We have also strengthened our engagement in various national Green Building Councils, the European Construction Technology Platform, and other associations in order to support and accelerate developments in the area of sustainable construction and market transformation. From 2020, we will also be actively involved as an official partner in the Europe Regional Network (ERN) of the World Green Building Council

Energy efficiency of buildings

Besides reducing our carbon footprint through the use of alternative raw materials and clinker technologies, our research laboratories are also working on products intended to improve the energy efficiency of buildings and to support the energy transition. One example of a product designed to support the energy transition is Powercrete®, a special concrete with outstandingly high thermal conductivity, which allows high-voltage cables to be laid underground.

Concrete is generally characterised by good thermal insulation properties and can, where used correctly, contribute towards significant energy savings in a building over the material’s service life. Thanks to innovative formulations, concrete can also be used to store or conduct heat. Our research center in Leimen, which was built in 2016, uses concrete-core activation to provide energy-efficient air conditioning for offices and laboratories. The new headquarters in Heidelberg, which has been occupied from mid-2020, have been constructed in accordance with the platinum standard of the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB), and the energy demand of the building will be exceptionally low.