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A&C and the UK Lower Carbon Concrete Group Drive International Cooperation and Standards at the China Concrete Exhibition

The 5th China Concrete Exhibition took place in Nanjing from May 31st to June 2nd. This expo was a great opportunity to stay informed about the trends in China's concrete and cement industry. Arcas & Callisto (A&C) was honoured to attend the event alongside the UK Lower Carbon Concrete Group (LCCG) and to participate in the China Concrete and Cement Innovation Forum.

China, the world's largest cement and concrete producer, produced 2.13 billion tonnes of cement in 2022, accounting for about 60% of global production. As the largest producer, China continuously introduces and develops new technologies to improve production efficiency and product quality. However, this has led to significant carbon emissions, posing substantial challenges. The Chinese government and Chinese enterprises are actively exploring low-carbon, environmentally friendly production methods to tackle these challenges.

The China Concrete Exhibition, hosted by the China Concrete and Cement-based Products Association (CCPA), is an essential event for the industry. It includes new product launches, industry forums, technical seminars, networking, and innovation competitions. Due to China's significant influence on the global concrete and cement market, the expo also invites international delegates to promote technological exchange, cross-border trade, and investment


This year, delegations from Singapore and Brazil were specially invited. The Singapore delegation, organised by the American Concrete Institute's Singapore Chapter, included members from the Building and Construction Authority, Singapore Polytechnic, R.A.K Material Consultants, and Pan-United Concrete.


The Brazilian delegation comprised representatives from the Brazilian Metallurgy Group, the Brazilian Portland Cement Association, and various manufacturing companies. These international delegates attended not only to explore trade and investment opportunities but also to participate in forums focused on low-carbon concrete technology development and cooperation, as well as the promotion of key products, equipment, and services under the Belt and Road Initiative.


In the context of the growing emphasis on green, low-carbon, and low-energy consumption in the construction industry, the demand for green low-carbon concrete is increasing. The exhibition featured the National Low-carbon Concrete Development Forum and the Concrete and Cement Innovation Forum. A&C’s CEO, Jia Li, and the LCCG’s Chairman, Andrew Mullholland, spoke at the forum about international cooperation and standardisation.


"A&C is committed to promoting global exchanges and cooperation in green, low-carbon building materials technology," Jia highlighted. Jia also emphasised the importance of China's participation in international low-carbon collaborations and introduced various international cooperation opportunities, with a focus on the European Horizon research projects. This offers new perspectives for China's global cooperation involvement.

Standards play a crucial role in industry development, as they significantly impact the application of technology and the improvement of management. CCPA emphasises the importance of setting and training for industry standards. To facilitate exchanges and cooperation in standard setting, we‘ve invited Andrew of the LCCG to China to discuss the potential for cooperation in establishing international standards in the concrete industry.


The UK has played a crucial role in establishing international building material standards by providing global reference and guidance through its high-quality standards, innovative technology, and sustainable development principles. Andrew explained that, although UK standards are typically developed solely by the BSI domestically, the process can be lengthy. However, there are fast-track standards like PAS (Publicly Available Specification), which are suitable for widely accepted new concepts with minimal expected changes. Another fast-track option is BSI Flex, designed for emerging fields with initial industry consensus. These fast-track standards are widely recognised internationally; around 30% of UK PAS standards have later become the basis for corresponding ISO standards.


Andrew observed that China, as the world's largest producer of concrete and cement, is rapidly developing and continuously innovating. By prioritising “new quality productive forces” and international standard-setting cooperation, China can improve consistency and quality in building standards. This will further boost the global influence of Chinese manufacturing and promote a sustainable future worldwide.


LCCG is made up of leading experts from the concrete and cement industry, academia, engineering, and real estate sectors. It is endorsed by prestigious institutions such as the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), the British Standards Institution (BSI) Group, MPA The Concrete Centre, and the Building Research Establishment (BRE). In 2023, the LCCG released two important documents: "The efficient use of GGBS in reducing global emissions" and "BSI Flex 350: Alternative binder systems for lower carbon concrete – Code of Practice". These are extremely valuable for standard-setting work.


Andrew stressed the growing importance of assessing the carbon footprint of concrete and setting specific limits and targets. This will help the construction industry measure their progress in reducing carbon emissions.

“A market benchmark assesses embodied carbon relative to all concrete recently available in a market. The benchmark is dynamic, changing as the embodied carbon of concrete sold on the market changes. A market benchmark is only applicable to the market from which the data is sourced. The LCCG Market Benchmark applies to all normal-weight concrete produced in the UK. There are variations in embodied carbon of concrete produced in different parts of the UK and, particularly, for different uses. Assessment against the Market Benchmark should consider this. The LCCG intends to report in September 2024 on variations in the embodied carbon of concrete between uses and UK regions, subject to receipt of sufficient data.” Andrew hopes that this report will provide value to the Chinese concrete market as well.


We were privileged to participate in the expo and share insights with the LCCG at the forum. More importantly, we gained valuable ideas and perspectives, learning about the future development trends and directions of the Chinese concrete market. Undoubtedly, this has been a fantastic learning experience.


The green and low-carbon movement is reshaping China's concrete market, unlocking numerous innovations and technological advancements. This underscores the importance of our role in promoting knowledge exchange and industry cooperation in this sector. We eagerly anticipate the exciting developments that the next China Concrete Exhibition will bring!


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