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Use Less Cement

Summary: Cement is the element in concrete and mortar that binds it together. Cement makes up 10% of the volume of concrete, but is responsible for 95% of the CO2 emissions of making concrete. Cement-making is the source of 5 to 6% of annual global carbon emissions (Drawdown).

The cement industry is the biggest user of coal in California. Switching to natural gas for a transition period would reduce emissions from energy in this industry. Recycling concrete from demolition sites keeps waste out of landfills, reduces gravel mining and saves water, but doesn’t do much to reduce emissions.

Researchers are working on making lower-carbon-emitting concrete using different materials. See the Decarbonization Roadmap for the Cement and Concrete Industries in California for state-level policy recommendations to push the industry to make a lower-emission product. However, the best way to reduce emissions from cement is to use less of it.

Goal: Avoid using or wasting cement. For household projects try using bricks, stone, or wood instead. Oppose freeway-widening, dams, new airport runways and concrete-heavy building designs because of their concrete use in addition to other environmental impacts.

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