Publication Details

Title : Environmental life-cycle assessment of concrete produced in the United States
Publication Date : April 29, 2022
Publication Journal :
Authors : T. Hottle, T. Hawkins, C. Chiquelin, B. Lange, B. Young, P. Sun, A. Elgowainy, M. Wang
Abstract : Concrete is a primary material in infrastructure projects and is a significant contributor to global climate emissions. However, there is a lack of readily available cement and ready-mix concrete inventory data for evaluating the environmental performance of the industries. This study describes the development of cradle-to-gate inventories for U.S. ready-mix concrete and gate-to-gate inventories for portland cement production technologies. These life-cycle inventories provide baselines for the environmental releases associated with concrete that is used for major infrastructure projects. The inventories are incorporated into the publicly available Greenhouse gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy use in Technologies (GREET) model. The life-cycle inventories are created using facility-level environmental release data from U.S. datasets normalized to activity levels which are based on production capacity and utilization data provided by Portland Cement Association (PCA) and the U.S. Geological Survey Minerals Yearbook. Unit processes for limestone quarrying, sand and gravel quarrying, and wet-mix concrete batch plants are developed on the basis of national total point-source environmental releases and production statistics, coupled with corresponding flows associated with off-road fuel consumption and other non-point-source emissions. Midpoint impact assessment results are normalized to provide insight into their relative significance in the context of U.S. total impacts. These findings show that advanced calcination technologies help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but the full set of releases also highlights the significance of metal releases and particulate-matter emissions generated by non-combustion-related activity.