Concrete technology is key in achieving building efficiency

by Tania Wannenburg
Concrete technology is key

Resource-efficient concrete technology is applied for the first time in Europe.


After realising savings of about 15 800 tons of CO2 equivalents and 25 400 megawatt hours of energy in the construction of the new One World Trade Centre in New York City, compared with a conventional concrete mix design, BASF’s Green Sense Concrete technology was first used in Europe in the construction of a new office building for the company in Ludwigshafen, Germany.

This technology enables the resource-efficient production and processing of concrete.

The new seven-storey building covers approximately 35 000m² and will provide more than 1 400 additional office workspaces. It is scheduled for completion in 2015. About 2 100m³ of concrete were processed in the casting of the foundation slab for the new office building and the mix design was optimised using an eco-efficiency analysis.

“We have aligned our concrete admixtures with the raw materials used by the concrete manufacturer, thereby achieving savings of about 30% in CO2 equivalents compared with a conventional concrete mix design,” says Dr Sven Asmus, globally responsible for concrete admixtures at BASF.

In constructing the new offices, BASF aims for gold standard certification from the German Sustainable Building Council (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Nachhaltiges Bauen, or DGNB), but in order to achieve this, the entire building has to meet strict standards during its construction, service life and dismantling. The DGNB system looks at all the important aspects of sustainable construction throughout the building’s entire lifecycle.

The certification process covers six areas: ecology, economy, socio-cultural and functional aspects, technical quality, processes and the site of the building, with equal importance assigned to the economic aspects of sustainable construction and ecological criteria.

Largely contributing to achieving certification, BASF’s Green Sense Concrete is a service package that helps manufacturers to improve the performance characteristics of concrete such as resilience, workability, durability and environmental friendliness.

It comprises three components, namely the optimisation of the concrete mix design, the use of hyper-plasticisers such as MasterGlenium and an eco-efficiency analysis of the concrete mix. The analysis serves to ascertain economic and ecological performance criteria of the concrete in comparison to traditional concrete mix designs.
According to Dr Asmus, in this way urgent challenges of the construction industry such as the high share in primary energy consumption, greenhouse gases and fine dust emissions, are addressed.

Another important benefit of the optimised concrete mix design is the substantial reduction of installation-related noise at the construction site. This is owing to the admixtures MasterMatrix and MasterGlenium, which ensure high flow ability and self-compacting properties of the concrete mix, making it largely unnecessary to compress the concrete through vibration.

As a result, the noise exposure for local residents and workers at the construction site is drastically reduced. According to DGNB accredited auditors, these improvements in the mix design will contribute significantly to the intended certification of the finished structure.

In addition, clear documentation and the transparency of the entire construction process play a significant role in the certification process. For this, BASF uses its Lifecycle Analyser, special software that enables concrete producers and operators to significantly improve process efficiency, energy consumption, selection of materials and quality.

“The combination of market know-how, research competence and consultancy expertise makes the Green Sense Concrete technology from BASF an elaborated, field-proven concept for sustainable construction,” concludes Dr Asmus.

Tel: 011 203 2422
Website: www.basf.co.za

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