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December 23, 2010 7:18 AM CST

MIT Research on Concrete Released

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

MIT's research reports:

  • 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," said Gilberto Perez, President of CEMEX USA.MIT is set to release 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, MIT's 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: web.mit.edu/cshub.


About the Author

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is devoted to the advancement of knowledge and education of students in areas that contribute to or prosper in an environment of science and technology. Visit www.mit.edu for more information.

 

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