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MIT’S NEW CONCRETE SUSTAINABILITY HUB (CSH)

Concrete is the most widely used building material on the planet; however, the production of some of its component materials account for up to five 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 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.

CSH research will initially be organized around three focus areas: concrete materials science, building technology and the econometrics of sustainable development. The first two projects, “Green Concrete Science,” and “The Edge of Concrete: A Life-Cycle Investigation of Concrete and Concrete Structures” are already underway. Franz-Josef Ulm, the Macomber Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental

Engineering, will serve as the CSH’s inaugural director and is the lead investigator on the Green Concrete Science project.

The CSH will be co-directed by John Ochsendorf, Class of 1942 Career Development Associate Professor of Building Technology in the Department of Architecture and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Source: MIT, PCA, RMC

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