Concrete Sustainability Hub established at MIT

October 5, 2009

Interdisciplinary collaboration will accelerate the growth of science and engineering in concrete research

Concrete is the most widely used building material on the planet; however, the production of some of its component materials accounts for up to 5 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions annually. To address the sustainability and environmental implications of the use of concrete as the backbone of our housing, schools, hospitals and other built infrastructure, including highways, tunnels, airports and rail systems, MIT today announced the creation of the Concrete Sustainability Hub, a research center established at MIT in collaboration with the Portland Cement Association (PCA) and Ready Mixed Concrete (RMC) Research & Education Foundation.

The Concrete Sustainability Hub (CSH), established with the goal of accelerating emerging breakthroughs in concrete science and engineering and transferring that science into practice, will provide $10 million of sponsored research funding during the next five years. Researchers from MIT’s School of Engineering, School of Architecture and Planning and Sloan School of Management are expected to participate in the CSH’s research activities.

The launch of CSH incidentally coincides with last week’s announcement that the EPA is moving to enact rules that would curtail greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and large industrial manufacturers. If enacted, these rules would likely impose regulations on all 118 cement plants in the United States. The RMC and PCA leaders are hopeful that research results emerging from CSH projects will help ease the way for the industry to meet any changes that would be required by those new regulations.

“The concrete industry has the honor of producing the world’s most favored building material, but this honor comes with a responsibility for the industry to minimize its ecological footprint,” said Julie Garbini, executive director of the RMC Research & Education Foundation.

Brian McCarthy, CEO and president of PCA, added “The MIT research team is an exceptional group of dedicated interdisciplinary faculty and the CSH will take a holistic approach to research that allows science to feed seamlessly into today’s concrete applications like paving and wall systems. For ultimately, the greatest opportunity for the building indu