Laing O’Rourke introduces low-carbon concrete mandate for UK construction projects

Laing O’Rourke has introduced a new mandate to switch to low-carbon concrete on all new UK projects, in a move that is likely to reduce Scope 3 emissions by more than 25% compared to company’s current concrete usage.


Laing O’Rourke introduces low-carbon concrete mandate for UK construction projects

The mandate was introduced 1 April 2023

Laing O’Rourke has confirmed that effective immediately, low-carbon concrete will be used for all of its new UK construction projects. The company is switching from conventional concrete to alternatives that incorporate Ground Granulated Blast-furnace Slag and Pulverised Fly Ash, which are available as industry by-products.

The company predicts that the overall carbon reduction will be around 28% compared to its current concrete usage, saving around 14.4 million kgCO2e. This is the equivalent of planting 94 hectares of forest.

Laing O’Rourke funded a research programme alongside Innovate UK, in collaboration with the University of Cambridge and Sheffield University’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), to ensure that the alternatives can act as a like-for-like substitute for traditional concrete.

Laing O’Rourke’s chief operating officer Cathal O’Rourke said: “We’ve committed to being a net zero company before 2050 and we are looking at every possible measure to accelerate our progress. In construction, the greatest challenge is reducing scope 3 emissions – the embodied carbon in purchased materials.

“Reducing all carbon emissions is a priority for our business. The built environment makes a significant contribution to global warming and constructors must work with clients and design partners to deploy new technologies and innovations that make modern methods the norm and enable us to build in less carbon-intensive ways.”

With the IEA forecasting a 12-23% increase in concrete production by mid-century, from 2018 levels, as trends like urbanisation continue, companies are looking to reduce emissions from the sector.

Laing O’Rourke is notably a member of the Climate Group’s ConcreteZero initiative. Launched in 2022, and operated in partnership with the World Green Building Council, the initiative convenes businesses across the global concrete value chain to simultaneously scale the demand for and supply of low-carbon concrete.

In joining ConcreteZero, businesses involved in construction commit to sourcing only net-zero concrete by 2050, with interim commitments covering 30% of concrete procurement volumes by 2025 and 50% by 2030. Businesses that do not directly procure concrete are also participating at this stage. Their role will be to influence their clients.

To learn more about how ConcreteZero will work edie spoke with the Climate Group’s head of industry Jen Carson. Read that interview here.


Mission Positive: To net-zero and beyond in the built environment

The built environment is one of the cornerstones of the UK economy and businesses operating within the sector are seeking to champion climate action while protecting society and corporations from swelling energy costs.

or this latest report in this new series, edie will explore the drivers, challenges and opportunities when it comes to accelerating decarbonisation, along with the steps that can be taken to embrace a ‘net-positive’ philosophy.

The report has been created with assistance from Laing O’Rourke and features a foreword from BRE’s chief executive Gillian Charlesworth. It also uses exclusive results from edie’s Net-Zero Business Barometer, an in-depth online survey of hundreds of sustainability and energy professionals.

Click here to download the report.

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