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COVID-19: living the unthinkable to rethink our lifestyles

At a time when the world is going through one of the biggest health crises in a century, the global economic model is being severely challenged. Banks are in panic and the CAC40 is falling daily. But rather than crying out for collapse, this turmoil may be an opportunity to step back and rethink more resilient models to prevent future crises in the decades to come.

Green SoluceCOVID-19: living the unthinkable to rethink our lifestyles
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Beyond Concrete: how can cities reduce their consumption of concrete?

Concrete is the world’s most widespread construction material and the second most used resource after water. It consists of aggregates agglomerated by a binder, cement, which is itself produced by clinker, a mixture of limestone and clay. Concrete is the main material in the construction of our cities. From the point of view of cities wishing to reduce their environmental impact, how can we replace this resource?

One of the world’s most polluting materials

This artificial rock, which is easy to build and solid, is however an ecological aberration: it alone is responsible for 4% to 8% of the world’s CO2 emissions today, according to different sources. For every tonne of cement produced (between 10 and 15 tonnes of concrete), 750kg of CO2 are emitted, according to Peter A. Claisse, in Civil Engineering Materials, 2016.

Concrete is difficult to deconstruct, compared to other materials, and its reuse becomes complex because of its friability and non-modularity, as opposed to wood for example. However, some solutions do exist and we will come back to them later.

The ecological impact of concrete comes from its production, transport and the materials needed to make it: sand and rubble are most often extracted from the coast, damaging the coastline, salinising agricultural land and having a negative impact on the ecosystems and communities that depend on it.

This ecological balance sheet is increasingly impacting the real estate sector, especially investors and cities, which are interested in the resilience of buildings, but also in their socio-ecological impact.

In order to reduce these disastrous carbon emissions, Green Soluce has identified two solutions, and supports its private and public clients in the implementation of a strategy that combines these areas.

 

Saving or replacing concrete in construction

The first solution is first of all to save the concrete used in the construction process, in order to limit its production.

It is possible to completely replace concrete with other building materials. Many materials and solutions can be considered, but not all of them are applicable in cities and do not have the same uses: for example, stone, wood or mycelium can completely eliminate the need for concrete in urban construction.

Concrete is also one of the main contributors to heat islands in cities, which reach their peak temperatures at night. Urban heat comes from the buildings and the ground, which release the energy stored during the day: using materials other than concrete would improve the summer comfort of large cities, by reducing heat absorption with materials that retain less heat, increasing albedo, reducing the artificialization of the ground, etc.

Cities have specific needs for resilience and many constraints, linked to the existing situation and heritage. As the majority of works in large cities are renovations, the use of alternative materials is not systematically possible. On the other hand, less polluting concretes can be considered, such as Hoffman Green Cement Technology or Vertua® from CEMEX.

 

Reducing the overall impact of concrete

 

The second solution, which will probably be the preferred means for cities and investors wishing to make a transition, is to reduce the impact of concrete by all possible means.

There are several ways to reduce the impact of concrete. One way is to recycle and reuse concrete: by crushing it, concrete residues can be incorporated into new concrete, which can be used to build roads, for example, thus avoiding extra material extraction.

Reusing crushed concrete blocks in new construction ensures that some of the carbon impact of new construction is reduced, although the EN206 standard limits the amount of recycled concrete in new concrete to 30%.

Natural products or waste from certain industries can advantageously replace sand and rubble. An activity is being created around the replacement of concrete by other materials, and companies are trying to register copyrights around bricks made from hemp, coal ash or iron, wood fibres: HemCrete®, AshCrete® or TimberCrete®.

Plastic waste can indeed be collected, crushed, and replace part of the sand and rubble contained in traditional concrete. The same is true for wood, which can be used to make wood concrete, where all or part of the aggregates are replaced by treated wood fibers.

Reducing the impact also means extending the service life of concrete. The average lifespan of concrete today is theoretically about 100 years. External and building use conditions, as well as the reinforcement, often cause problems that shorten this lifespan. Chemical processes are being investigated to extend the service life by reducing the porosity and carbonation of the concrete, and to limit corrosion of the reinforcement.

It is in most cases more environmentally friendly to repair a concrete structure than to rebuild one. Many inspiring success stories are available here.

Many solutions exist, applicable in different cases, including so-called “carbon-negative” solutions, such as wood concrete: in each brick is stored more CO2 than is emitted for its production!

 

Written by Jeremy Pistien for Urban Chronicles™.

For more information on Green Soluce and our services, please do not hesitate to contact us.

References

https://edgar.jrc.ec.europa.eu/news_docs/jrc-2016-trends-in-global-co2-emissions-2016-report-103425.pdf

Green SoluceBeyond Concrete: how can cities reduce their consumption of concrete?
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COVID-19: what impact for our lives and our cities?

The COVID-19 virus appeared in the city of Wuhan in China at the end of December 2019 and has spread rapidly worldwide. In many regions of the world, very strict containment measures have been taken to limit the spread of the disease. We already see the effects on the environment, on the economy, but also on our lives in cities and rural areas.

Green SoluceCOVID-19: what impact for our lives and our cities?
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“Décret tertiaire”: initial thoughts and keys to its successful implementation

In the growing concern about the climate emergency situation that has arisen since the Grenelle of the Environment Round Table, France is in the midst of an energy transition and concrete actions are being taken to make territorial energy spending more sustainable and responsible. France will have the opportunity to position itself as the European leader in reducing energy consumption in buildings thanks to the ”décret tertiaire”, published the 23rd of July 2019.

Taken in application of a provision of the ELAN law, this decree compels the players of tertiary real estate to reduce the final energy consumption of their assets.

In February 2020, Green Soluce organized a round table in partnership with Real Estate and Urbanism Club HEC Alumni and Business Immo, in order to share the questions, expectations and first thoughts of players concerned by this decree as well as the visions of real estate professionals who have already anticipated the implementation of this new mandatory requirement.

Green Soluce“Décret tertiaire”: initial thoughts and keys to its successful implementation
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Interview of Pierre Vital, associated partner of Groupe ID&AL

New issues are continually being added to the challenges faced by real estate developers: interactions with users, climate emergency, the role of digital technology, etc. This is why Chroniques Urbaines™ exchanged views with Pierre VITAL, associated partner of ID&AL groupe, who spoke about the role of the real estate developer in a context of digital innovation and climate change.

Green SoluceInterview of Pierre Vital, associated partner of Groupe ID&AL
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What is the future of reuse in construction ?

On February 10 2020, France enacted the law on the circular economy and on its fight against waste (la loi relative à la lutte contre le gaspillage et à l’économie circulaire). This law aims to promote reuse in the construction sector, which today represents 14% of waste production in France.

Why do we urge to accelerate the development of reuse in the building sector ? What are the obstacles and opportunities for the reuse of construction materials? What are successful examples of buildings constructed through reuse? Find ou in this article!

Green SoluceWhat is the future of reuse in construction ?
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(Re)discover the Impulsion2021 programme

As you have might have noticed, the “Union des Caisses nationales de la Sécurité sociale” (UCANSS) and Green Soluce launched the Impulsion2021 programme on September 10, 2019 to support the Social Security and its agencies in the energy transition of their housing stock, and encourage the choice of innovative solutions to accelerate its transformation !

Green Soluce(Re)discover the Impulsion2021 programme
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Co-living : Are we moving towards sustainability ?

Nowadays co-living has become more popular with new generations and its impact on social behavior is well recognized by people. But, what about its impact on urban sustainability? Is this sharing space trend also helping the planet? How can sharing space be an asset towards a more sustainable city?

Green SoluceCo-living : Are we moving towards sustainability ?
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Environnemental certifications, impact studies : more control and transparency measuring ESG data from projects and companies

Among the types of data collected, priority is often given to financial, customer or production data. At the same time, environmental, social and governance (ESG) data are becoming increasingly important in corporate CSR reporting to measure carbon emissions and energy consumption, particularly for real estate.

New regulations, such as the Tertiary Decree (French law requiring companies to reduce CO2 emissions), new international reporting frameworks, such as the Sustainable Development Objectives (SDOs), or a trend for companies to create their impact reports, make this data increasingly relevant.

Green SoluceEnvironnemental certifications, impact studies : more control and transparency measuring ESG data from projects and companies
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Vegetalization of real estate projects: What impacts for social housing?

Social housing represents about 19% of the French housing stock. Social landlords are therefore major players in the transition towards more sustainable real estate. Chroniques Urbaines™ met Romain Dubois, CEO of ICF Habitat group, and Patrick Jeanselme, Chairman of the Board of ICF Habitat La Sablière and head of the group’s CSR project.They enlightened us on the integration of biodiversity in social housing and its particular role as a lever for social inclusion and empowerment.

Green SoluceVegetalization of real estate projects: What impacts for social housing?
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