Portland cement, a critical ingredient in concrete, is used widely for all types of construction. The cement production process, as well as the chemical reactions involved in its manufacture, are highly energy-intensive.

of Canada’s emissions

Priorities for Action

  1. Public investment in demonstration and commercial applications of viable low-carbon cement technologies
  2. Government procurement of low carbon cement and support for material-efficient design
  3. Movement to performance-based codes and standards for construction projects
  4. Research and development for novel technologies

The Opportunity

While incremental reductions to cement industry emissions are possible through operational efficiencies, more fundamental change is needed to address both energy-related and process emissions. 

Energy emissions can be addressed by low-carbon and net-zero fuels such as biomass or hydrogen, or through electric heating. Carbon capture and storage and alternative cement chemistries can contribute to eliminating process emissions. A shift towards more sustainable construction practices including the use of alternative materials offers additional emissions abatement approaches.

Today’s Challenges

Decarbonization technologies are capital intensive, immature, or face regulatory policy barriers; weak demand for low-carbon cement and high sensitivity to material prices, building codes and standard processes are slow to adopt innovations

Future Challenges

R&D to perfect alternative cement chemistries; development of alternative building materials

Indicators of progress

Percent change in GHG emissions from cement manufacturing, market penetration of low-carbon cements

Our Net Zero Decision Support Tool envisions a transformational level of change across eight key pathways: