Air travel gets a bad rep for the CO2 emissions it produces but the emissions arising from cement production are actually growing at a faster rate. In fact, cement production accounts for just under 10% of all carbon emissions each year.
Cement is the primary ingredient in concrete which, given its use for our roads and buildings, is the second most consumed substance on Earth after water.
As a construction company, we’re a heavy user of concrete but as part of our commitment to sustainability and innovation, we’ve introduced a number of initiatives to lower our works’ impact on the environment. One such initiative is the use of Cemfree – a cement free concrete – on a number of our projects. However, as this is still a fairly new material and mass adoption will take time, we recognised that a bigger impact could be made by addressing our use of more traditional concrete.
The process of distributing concrete to site requires a lot of equipment which must then be washed out after use. This produces vast quantities of waste water which can cause significant environmental damage. Our solution: the introduction of a water filtration process.
When distributing concrete to site, it needs to be transferred from the lorry to a pump and then through a network of pipes. Concrete pouring operations rely on old methods, which, if not managed well can cause environmental detriments (e.g. contaminated spillages, or the creation of unnecessary waste).
The filtration system allows any residue from the concrete distribution on site to be filtered so that the water can be extracted and then reused. If waste is left to be stored and disposed, it can be laborious and expensive and if it was not to be managed effectively can cause significant environmental damage as its high alkaline levels can kill aquatic life.
With this filtration system that Keltbray has pioneered, we offer a controlled system which can manage the arising waste as well as recover the water and re-introduce it back into the concrete distribution processes. The ability to control waste offers incredible benefits: lessening CO2 emissions by requiring fewer skips per week and fewer lorries at the site, and recycling water to return it to concrete distribution processes to reduce water demand.
The potential for other UK construction companies to manage their concrete waste with this same process is momentous. The ability to filter water and re-introduce it into the process is a huge step forward and the environmental and financial gain from this project alone has been immense.
Keltbray has now bought the facility outright, and reusing the facility means that concrete operations can reuse their water, which means fewer concrete skips, lower water usage and bigger savings.
In the next 30 years, the build environment will double and rely on concrete: to be economical, and sustainable, this water recycling initiative should be implemented across the industry.