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Carbon Savings with Concrete Canvas

4 min

c. Concrete Canvas
Following the SPOTLIGHT: Concrete on a Roll event, Quadrant Transport sits down with Concrete Canvas Ltd’s Technical Manager, Lee Church, to learn about the carbon savings that comes with the company’s products and their work with Ricardo Energy & Environment.

Offering a concrete solution for erosion control in the rail industry, the Concrete Canvas material has significant carbon savings when compared to a typical concrete application.

Lee Church, Concrete Canvas

Quadrant Transport spoke to Lee Church about the company’s mission to demonstrate the carbon savings of their product from the supply chain right the way through to its end of life.

Lee explained that “environmental and carbon considerations are becoming increasingly important, particularly for major clients” in the rail industry.

Recognising this change in mindset towards sustainable thinking, Concrete Canvas Ltd wanted their customers to appreciate the potential carbon savings when using the Concrete Canvas materials to replace traditional concrete solutions.

“The cement industry is one of the biggest producers of carbon dioxide and we need to try and reduce the use wherever possible. We just need to be a bit more selective and creative in how we use it and that’s where Concrete Canvas comes in,” Lee told Quadrant Transport.

The Concrete Canvas (CC) material is a flexible concrete-filled geosynthetic that hardens on hydration to form a thin durable waterproof layer. CC combines geosynthetic materials and a dry concrete mix so that is hydrated on-site, reducing the need to transport water by using local sources for hydration. CC is manufactured in three variants that are 5, 8 and 13mm thick and is typically used to replace 100 to 150mm of poured, precast or sprayed concrete.

The design life of CC is comparable to traditional concrete solutions as it has a BBA certified durability in excess of 120 years. Due to these properties the company “were confident”, Lee explained, that there would be a carbon saving with their product.

In order to prove Concrete Canvas’ environmental benefits, Lee said they “needed an independent assessment to verify” these carbon savings.

The Concrete Canvas material has a 45% carbon saving compared to 150mm of ST4 poured concrete

Ricardo Energy & Environment were commissioned to carry out a life-cycle assessment of Concrete Canvas products which found that “the Concrete Canvas material has a 45% carbon saving compared to 150mm of ST4 poured concrete,” Lee said.

Calculating carbon savings

Following their work with Ricardo Energy & Environment, Concrete Canvas Ltd now have a tool that allows them to work out their Global Warming Potential savings.

As well being able to “provide credibility” to their carbon savings findings, Ricardo created a “calculation tool so we can work out the Global Warming Potential savings by replacing poured concrete on specific projects as well,” Lee said.

This tool allows Concrete Canvas to look at the individual carbon costs from ‘cradle to grave’, including the sourcing of raw materials, the manufacturing process and transportation of the finished product”. The tool has shown the company that even though they are shipping abroad from Wales, they can still provide a carbon saving for projects across the globe.

Sharing this tool with clients also means customers can compare the use of Concrete Canvas to ST4 concrete and see the savings achievable on their own projects.

Customers and clients can have that reassurance that it just isn’t taking our word for it, it is an independent assessment,

“Customers and clients can have that reassurance that it just isn’t taking our word for it, it is an independent assessment,” Lee said.

The tool also highlighted where the company could reduce their carbon output even further. With the employment of a Sustainability Officer, Lee explained the company are now looking into “reducing the Global Warming Potential of the products further, by considering renewable energy sources for our manufacturing lines and offices, reducing wastage of raw and finished materials and recycling as much as possible. It’s important that we also make our supply chain as sustainable as we can.”

Lee rounded up the interview by saying: “It is impossible to stop using concrete overnight, but by using lower-carbon alternatives such as Concrete Canvas, it is possible to reduce the Global Warming Potential throughout the rail industry while still providing asset owners with the durability that they require.”

Sam Hilton, Senior Consultant at Ricardo Energy & Environment said concerning their work with Concrete Canvas: “We were delighted to work with Concrete Canvas to robustly quantify the life cycle impact of its Concrete Canvas GCCM products. The tool we developed provides comparisons against traditional concrete use in project-specific scenarios, enabling Concrete Canvas’ clients to make informed decisions. This is increasingly important as the climate emergency becomes ever more pressing and net-zero targets need to be met.”

Learn more about the carbon savings associated with CC in Ricardo Energy & Environment’s Report here.