On behalf of BIBM, the Federation of the European Precast Concrete Industry, I welcome all of you to the 63rd BetonTage congress. The role of a European federation such as BIBM is to forecast the challenges and opportunities for the industry in the years to come. I believe that the next challenge, but also an opportunity, ahead of us will arise from an increased demand for a decarbonized construction sector.
International bodies and initiatives such as the COP21 and the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of the United Nations call for maintaining global warming within the 1.5 oC boundary. Buildings cause one third of greenhouse gas emissions in Europe and are thus in the center of policy makers’ attention. It is undeniable that the image of precast concrete is suffering against this perspective, especially in the mind of people outside the construction sector or without a life-cycle mindset. Cement is indeed responsible for 5% of manmade CO2 emissions worldwide, and this figure is often associated with precast concrete as well. But as a manufacturer, construction expert and citizen of this planet, I firmly believe that precast concrete is the solution to this problem.
Firstly, concrete has a low embodied CO2 level. As demonstrated in the “Making Concrete Change” report recently published by Chatham House Institute, concrete has the lowest level of both embodied energy and CO2 when compared to other construction materials. Thanks to the judicious use of cement, its local value chain and low-energy manufacturing process, the reality for precast concrete is a generally low environmental impact. Secondly, the use of precast concrete provides enormous benefits during the use phase of buildings and structures – e. g. reduced energy use thanks to its thermal mass or integrability with renewable energy sources are but a few examples. And at the end of its life, it will be fully recyclable for other applications!
Thirdly, the entire value chain in the precast concrete sector is taking action with the aim to further reduce its footprint. We have the duty, not only as the BIBM but as the precast concrete industry in general, to convince stakeholders and policy makers of these facts. Precast is the solution for a sustainable, decarbonized and modern construction sector, fulfilling the needs of present and future generations. Do you all agree with me?