Reducing concrete’s carbon footprint

Neocrete director Zarina Bazoeva at her company’s display at the recent Concrete NZ conference held in Dunedin.

Concrete and sustainability are two words many think shouldn’t be used in the same sentence. However, the recent Concrete NZ conference in Dunedin focused on sustainability in the industry, and solutions to make concrete more environmentally-friendly.
Neocrete is a New Zealand-based company focused on reducing the carbon footprint of concrete and improving its performance through technology and innovation. Director Zarina Bazoeva spoke to
Building Today about the company and its new D5 Green product.

How does Neocrete reduce the carbon footprint of concrete?

We have just introduced a new admixture for concretes to the New Zealand market called D5 Green. This product is made of natural pozzolan and other minerals which significantly increase the strength of concrete.

This means that cement content and, hence, the carbon footprint, can be substantially reduced for the same grade of concrete without impairing its performance or durability.

Based on the test results we obtained in Australia earlier this year, with D5 Green the CO2 emissions per 1 cubic metre of concrete can be reduced by 16% to 33% depending on the mix.

Where did D5 Green come from?

D5 Green has been developed in Russia over the past 20 years by my father Dr Oleg Bazoev. He became obsessed with improving the performance of concrete back when he was studying for his PHD in Civil Engineering in Moscow.

He scoured the Russian countryside searching for different natural minerals, testing combinations of them for years until he came up with D5.

Some of these minerals come from the Caucasus mountains by my home town Vladikavkaz, where he eventually set up a D5 production plant.

Since then, D5 has been used in a large number of projects, including constructions with stringent strength and durability requirements such as hydro power plants, high rise apartment blocks, tunnels and bridges. So eventually he decided to expand the business overseas.

Why New Zealand?

It was by chance really. I fell in love with New Zealand eight years ago when I came here on secondment with KPMG.

In early 2018, I was in a chance conversation with Matt Kennedy-Good about Dad and D5, and how great it would be here given the earthquake issues.

Matt is really into innovation and sustainability, and was very excited by the opportunity for D5 to make a positive difference. Neocrete was born shortly after.

Has D5 Green been tested in New Zealand?

Yes, a lot, in part again because of good luck. Early last year we presented D5 to LT McGuinness Ltd to understand if there was a market appetite for it in New Zealand.

Immediately they saw the potential for how D5 could reduce the carbon footprint of concrete — something that hadn’t been a focus in Russia — and organised yard trials at one of their sites.

They introduced us to Gordon Jack at Higgins Concrete Ltd, who was just about to start writing his Master’s thesis on concrete, and was looking for the right subject.

Like all of us, Gordon is really into sustainability and innovation, so he was really keen to run all these tests on D5 Green. We are hugely grateful to LT McGuinness, and Gordon and his team at Higgins Concrete.

This is another thing I love about New Zealand — everyone is so open to working together towards a common purpose.

Every day I am blown away by the support and interest in what we are doing. D5 Green is generating a lot of excitement here because of how it reduces carbon.

Since then we have also run a lot of tests with WSP NZ Ltd (formerly WSP Opus) and other independent labs in Australia, and undertaken the Life Cycle Assessment of mixes with D5 Green.

What’s next for Neocrete?

We just launched at the Concrete NZ conference. It was amazing as there was a huge focus on sustainability, which meant a lot of interest in Neocrete and a great chance to meet a heap of really interesting people in the industry.

I was surprised to learn how much research has already been done on the sustainability front by pretty much every large company in the industry.

We are now talking with a few people about how D5 Green can work for their businesses.

We’ve also got a really ambitious plan to continue innovating D5 Green, working with my Dad of course, and local experts here in New Zealand.

We are also talking to Callaghan Innovation experts and the New Zealand concrete industry on how we can collaborate and synergise with other research already done in New Zealand to push carbon reduction even further.

Ultimately, we want Neocrete to help make building sustainable worldwide. We want New Zealand to be famous for low carbon concrete — as well as the All Blacks and hobbits.

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