The Global Change institute features the world’s first structural application of cement-free concrete.

27 November 2013 — Concrete manufacturer Wagners, Bligh Tanner Consulting Engineers and architects HASSELL have won a prize for a world-first structural application of cement-free concrete.

The trio scooped the Best of the Best Award at the BPN Sustainability Awards for their work on the suspended geopolymer concrete floor panels used in the construction of the University of Queensland’s Global Change Institute.

Wagners’ “Earth Friendly Concrete”, which the company has been developing over eight years, was used as a low-carbon alternative to conventional concrete and delivered significant carbon reductions compared with using normal concrete.

The cement in EFC is a geopolymer binder made from industrial wastes – blast furnace slag from iron production and fly ash from coal-fired power generation.

Wagners states that EFC reduces the carbon emissions associated with normal “Portland” cement by 80-90 per cent, and also has a lower embodied energy.

“Most buildings start their life with a carbon debt as concrete is one of the largest contributors to CO2 emissions,” the jury commented, which comprised Richard Francis-Jones, design director of fjmt; Dick Clarke of Envirotecture; and Malay Dave, a self-sustainable housing researcher.

“This kind of product offers an immediate path to low embodied energy buildings, and provides long-term opportunities to feed into the design and building process of almost all buildings in Australia and the world.”

Tom Glasby, EFC manager at Wagners, said the product had the potential to be used in a variety of structural applications worldwide.

“EFC is a very exciting product, not only because of its extremely low carbon emission, but also because of the improved structural and durability properties it has, compared to conventional concrete,” Mr Glasby said.

HASSELL principal Mark Roehrs said the architectural, engineering and sustainability teams had worked together to create a building at the forefront of sustainability for sub-tropical climates.

“We’ve pushed the geopolymer concrete’s properties by exposing the precast panels and making them a key structural design element as well as an integral part of the building’s low energy operation,” Mr Roehrs said.

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