Low Carbon Materials – Addressing the Challenge of Net-Zero Construction

Lack of housing is a massive issue here in Ireland, in the UK and across most of Europe. The Irish government has said it needs to build 50,000 new homes a year – and in the UK the figure is 300,000. However, as we build, we exacerbate the issues of #sustainability. The #construction sector has an exceptionally high embodied carbon footprint due to its heavy reliance on concrete, steel and other materials. Concrete is one of the biggest contributors to the #pollution caused by the construction industry, generating 8 per cent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions.

Enter Low Carbon Materials (LCM). Founded by CEO Natasha Boulding and fellow scientists with an expertise in plastics. Looking at possible uses for waste plastic that can’t be recycled, they realised that these plastics could be used as a lightweight material to replace aggregates such as sand and gravel in concrete blocks.

Their product is carbon-negative, since it uses plastic which would otherwise be burned, and replaces some of the traditional ingredients used in concrete which are carbon-intensive to produce. Its carbon-negative status means it can compensate for emissions elsewhere in a build. So it contributes towards the #netzero target of the construction industry for 2030, which is the ambition for both the UK and Ireland.

LCM has tested its core product OSTO’s suitability for other objects commonly made from concrete, like curbs, street furniture and paving stones. The company is already working in partnership with construction companies, including taking part in the Holcim Accelerator . (Holcim is one of the world’s biggest concrete and cement companies. It’s an interesting and innovative company in the field of sustainability in its own right – which will be featured later this year on the blog.)

The Times newspaper recognised LCM’s work in January 2023 in a feature on Rising Stars: three fast-growing construction businesses.

This is the fifth in a year-long series of weekly blogs by Jean Callanan telling stories of businesses and brands that are doing inspiring and innovative things in addressing climate change. Read the background thinking and the stories of Knorr Future 50 FoodsAn Post,  Good on You and Notpla.