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Groundbreaking MIT Concrete Research Still Relevant in 2020

Groundbreaking MIT Concrete Research Still Relevant in 2020

In 2010, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) released research findings that should help set a new standard in life-cycle assessment (LCA) modeling for building materials. The groundbreaking MIT research on concrete released studies, which are part of an ongoing research initiative at the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub, will quantify the cradle-to-grave (total) environmental costs of paving and building materials, and will ultimately result in the most comprehensive LCA model produced to-date.

Groundbreaking MIT Concrete Research Released

MIT Concrete Research we saw reported on many things. The last two, however, particularly concern the construction industry:

  • Residential buildings and high volume roads – more than 85% of the life-cycle carbon emissions are due to the use phase.
  • Potential for significant fuel efficiency savings for vehicles on concrete pavements over asphalt. These fuel efficiency savings could lead to substantially lower life-cycle CO2 emissions
  • The advantages of Insulated Concrete Form (ICF) homes to deliver energy savings in heating, cooling, and ventilation compared to conventional wood-framed construction – up to 20% or more in operational energy savings.
  • There are measurable differences between alternative construction systems, and that the thermal mass of concrete can provide energy savings over a life cycle of 75 years. Life cycle assessment provides a rigorous means of testing and demonstrates that concrete buildings can offer reductions in carbon emissions compared to alternative construction materials.

“This groundbreaking research highlights the dramatic cost savings for builders, homeowners, municipal governments and taxpayers. The preliminary research shows that not only do concrete homes, buildings and roads last longer, but using these materials provides energy savings and a reduction of carbon emissions.” – Gilberto Perez, President of CEMEX USA

The World Uses Concrete Almost Exclusively

It’s pretty much clear, if you travel abroad, that the United States is unique in its proclivity for building wood-framed houses. While there is a definite move towards block and other construction methods, pouring concrete walls isn’t decidedly popular in the US. However, if you go to third world countries this is almost exclusively the dominant construction method. Turns out, this isn’t a bad idea (or method to emulate).

MIT also released a follow-up study in 2011 that analyzes the economic costs of building and paving materials. This will provide the most comprehensive analysis of the total costs of building and paving materials.

MIT is a world-renowned leader in research, education, and higher learning. Established in 2009, The MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub is a collaborative effort to integrate the best science on concrete and similar materials into industry practices. The MIT Sustainability Hub includes researchers from three schools at MIT: MIT’s School of Engineering, MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning, and MIT’s Sloan School of Management.

To view the study, please visit

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