7 Dec 2022
Designing Low-carbon Building Products
On 12 October, we successfully finished 1st session of the Experts On: Global Dialogues for a Sustainable Built Environment webinar series. Thanks to the co-organisers of this webinar event, China Ecological Building Material Association at China Building Material Federation, China State Key Laboratory of Green Building Materials and RECONMATIC, the webinar was a great success.
For the 1st session, we invited Liwei Zhou, Deputy Secretary General of China Building Materials Federation; Fazhou Wang, Professor in the State Key Laboratory of Silicate Building Materials of the Wuhan University of Technology; and Sebastiaan Stiller, CEO of EPD International AB, to present on low carbon building materials product design technology and policy.
Introduction to China’s Low-carbon Building Products and Standard
Liwei Zhou gave us an introduction to the classification of building materials and the relevant information on the“Dual Carbon Goal” (carbon emission peak / carbon neutrality) in China, as well as the progress of the work on the establishment of the “Dual Carbon” standardization. In March 2022, the China National Standardization Administration Committee issued a notice announcing the establishment of the “Dual Carbon Goal” Standardization General Group, which is responsible for guiding the development, application, and implementation of national standards, to provide support for the consistency of the standards. As one of the experts in the group, Liwei Zhou is responsible for the coordination of the standardization of “Dual Carbon Goal” in the building materials industry.
She introduced the idea and framework of the system designation and presented the first batch of industry standards in the building materials industry. Standards are means to achieve carbon reduction targets and a basic tool for green transformation and upgrading in the industry. During the 13th Five-Year Plan period, China issued 16 energy consumption limit standards, achieving annual energy savings of 77 million tons of coal, equivalent to 148 million tons of carbon dioxide emission reduction. It is essential for the market to understand these standards, because carbon neutrality is going to be a systemic change in every industry, and understanding standards is the only way to get a pass for the promotion and application of your green technologies, and to make contributions to the construction of ecological society.
Carbon Mineralisation Materials and Technology
Half of the world's cement is produced in China. As one of the country's key infrastructure industries, cement is a big "carbon emitter". In 2020 China's cement industry emitted around 1.23 billion tonnes of CO2, accounting for about 14% of the country's total carbon emissions. The cement industry is also trying to make efforts around "carbon emission reduction". The construction industry is the main industry for the implementation of China's carbon strategy, but it also has been facing problems such as a lack of top-level design, and scattered resources.
Fazhou Wang's research focuses on the theory and application of carbon mineralization technology in industrial solid waste. The team is engaged in research on green building materials, focusing on projects such as high-performance concrete, low-carbon cementitious materials, industrial solid waste and CO2 resource utilisation.
Basically, the three main parts needed to consider for reducing carbon emissions in the cement industry are raw material procurement, process calcination and end-of-pipe CO2 emissions. He has achieved the creation of building material products through the mineralisation of flue gas CO2 with a carbon-sequestering cementitious material developed by his team.
The highly reactive carbon-sequestering cementitious material was produced by ways of ion doping, crystalline modulation and multi-stage variable pressure maintenance. He used this cementitious material to create a new system that enables the production of carbon-mineralised materials from CO2 at room temperature. This gas-driven mineralisation reaction creates a highly dense new structure, solving the problems of high porosity and low durability of traditional cement-based materials.
He also showed us the process of the evolution, as well as a few examples of applications, such as carbon-sequestering fibre cement board, carbon mineralised insulation board, carbon-sequestering stone, etc. Looking forward to more breakthroughs and applications of these carbon-mineralised materials.
Low-carbon Building Product Design and EPD Marking Certification
Sébastien explained why EPD is needed, what it is and how to apply for one. With more and more concerns growing about climate change, companies are increasingly taking on more responsibility for the environment, working towards planning sustainable development goals and clearly communicating the environmental impact of their products. To level the playing field, objective third-party organisations are needed to assess and provide data. EPD is one such third-party organisation.
EPD stands for Environmental Product Declaration and is a third-party declaration report, not an environmental label or environmental requirement. It reports on environmental data throughout the life cycle of a product (LCA) in accordance with the international standard ISO 14025. This environmental declaration helps buyers and consumers to better understand the sustainability and environmental impact of products, providing them with another parameter in addition to product performance, price and functionality. It provides strong support for product eco-design, green purchasing and green consumption. So far, EPD validation has been carried out in Europe, USA, Germany, France and Japan.
The validation starts with Product Category Rules (PCR), and then LCA data reporting according to your product category. A large amount of data is processed in an automated and digital way and eventually transformed into a uniform global standardised EPD reporting format, thus reducing trade barriers.