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RMC Foundation, PCA commit $10 million to Concrete Sustainability Hub

Sources: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge; CP staff

The Ready Mixed Concrete Research & Education Foundation and Portland Cement Association boards have each approved another $5 million to support a second, five-year phase of concrete and infrastructure science, engineering, and economics studies at the MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering-hosted Concrete Sustainability Hub (CSHub).

“The Hub is an exceptional collaboration that allows our students, staff, and faculty to have a direct impact on a major industry and contribute to addressing important societal challenges,” says MIT School of Engineering Dean Ian Waitz.

“Working with PCA and the RMC Research & Education Foundation allows us to find ways to bridge the valley between our lab-scale inventions and full-scale innovation in engineering practice,” affirms Franz-Josef Ulm, CSHub faculty director and George Macomber Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “We must fully communicate the potential for quantitative sustainable engineering to transform current engineering practice.”

In late-2009, RMC Foundation and PCA approved $10 million to launch the Hub and fund five years of research aiming to fine-tune the composition of concrete, reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of its production, and quantify its environmental impact and cost during the entire lifespan of an infrastructure or building project. CSHub staff will build on initial advances in concrete and cement study areas over a 2014-2018 schedule, translating results into engineering practice. Work planned includes additional experiments on the composition of concrete to optimize its durability while minimizing its carbon footprint, and integrating life cycle assessment/life cycle cost analysis thinking into building design.

“As the call for an increased emphasis on environmental issues in the building industry grows louder, concrete producers are making a long-term investment in research that can move us toward greater sustainability,” says RMC Foundation Executive Director Julie Garbini.

“Breakthroughs in science and engineering hold the promise that concrete can be part of the solution of contributing to sustainable development and reducing the carbon footprint of our built environment,” adds PCA President Gregory Scott.