Sustainability

A proactive partner in sustainability

Doing our part to reduce GHGs

Our members are committed to continuous improvement, transparency and developing collaborative solutions for a low carbon future, both in terms of product-based solutions they manufacture—such as low carbon cement and concrete—and policy-based solutions—such as a price on carbon. Our industry is proud to have been a vocal and active champion of carbon pricing and a robust, science-based regulatory response to reducing GHGs and improving the resilience of our communities. While cement is only a small component of a typical concrete mix and cement production enjoys a relatively small footprint on many environmental metrics, it is energy and CO2 intensive. Our sector is dedicated to reducing its GHG emissions and we have a strong legacy in this regard. In the last twenty years, we have reduced the energy required to make a tonne of cement by about 20%. More recently, we have introduced Contempra, a lower carbon cement which reduces CO2 emissions by 10% compared to regular cement, a measure that could avoid almost 1MT of GHG emissions per year in Canada.

Today, we are focusing on bringing lower carbon cements to market through two main strategies:

  • Substituting traditional fossil fuels, including coal, with lower carbon alternatives. In leading jurisdictions, some cement facilities have achieved carbon intensity reductions of over 50% in the fuels they use; if this were achieved at all facilities in Canada, it would yield GHG reductions on the order of 2-3MT;
  • Deep investments in potentially transformative technologies: carbon capture and reuse and other manufacturing innovations will help turn the concrete of the future into a “carbon sink”.

As part of our industry’s commitment to transparency, the Cement Association of Canada has registered Environmental Product Declarations for Portland-Limestone cement and ordinary Portland Cements in concrete with the CSA Group. The cement EPDs, which were prepared by the Athena Sustainable Materials Institute, can be viewed on CSA Group’s EPD registry listings.

Being a good corporate citizen

Our members are equally committed to the quality of life of communities across Canada. As employers, they place an absolute priority on ensuring a safe and healthy workplace for their employees and contractors. As manufacturers – and neighbours – they strive to avoid and mitigate local impacts from their operations and work to understand and respond to community needs and concerns, getting engaged with local community groups. As neighbours and citizens, they invest in community initiatives locally as well as nationally.

Sustainable cement manufacturing

Cement made simple

Cement is a fine grey powder that is mixed with gravel, sand, and water to form concrete, the most widely used construction material in the world.  Cement and supplementary cementing materials (SCMs) are the critical ingredients that lock sand and gravel together into an inert concrete matrix.  They typically represent 10% to 15% of a concrete mix.  On average, concrete has a greenhouse gas emissions intensity equal to 1/9 that of cement.  Each of the six types of cement manufactured in Canada meets technical specifications established by the Canadian Standards Association.

In simple terms, cement is manufactured by heating a precise mixture of finely ground limestone, clay and sand in a rotating kiln to temperatures reaching 1450 ºC.  This results in the production of cement clinker, an intermediate product in the manufacture of cement. The cement clinker emerges from the kiln, is cooled, and then finely ground to produce portland cement. In 2011, the Canadian cement industry introduced a lower carbon cement branded Contempra and referenced in the National Building Code through the CSA A.23.1 standard under the name Portland-limestone cement. This new cement reduces CO2 emissions by 10% compared to regular cement. Learn more about Contempra, its EPD and its environmental life cycle performance and about the industry’s other core strategies to reduce its footprint.

Cement is a fine powder

Construction and demolition waste are an alternative lower carbon fuel

A typical concrete mix