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Supporting contractors’ green ambitions

Even in an industry as competitive as construction, the pressure to improve environmental performance is growing. Developers are targeting green buildings and want their contractors to be fully on board. An important way to reduce the carbon footprint of projects is through carefully sourcing your construction materials, argues AfriSam.

With the trend towards green buildings, contractors are expected to support their customers in reaching sustainability goals; AfriSam’s product range has been evolving with this front of mind.

Decades of innovation in terms of environmental responsibility and carbon reduction have put AfriSam out front, according to Hannes Meyer, Cementitious Executive at AfriSam. The company was one of the first to develop its own sustainability road map, and this is now paying off for customers.

Decades of innovation in terms of environmental responsibility and carbon reduction have put AfriSam out front.

“The sustainability drive in the construction sector is gathering momentum,” says Meyer “The carbon footprint of construction materials is where contractors can make immediate gains when looking to align a project with more stringent environmental standards.”

Meyer points out that the company has made continuous progress in fields such as energy efficiency, cement extenders, water conservation and biodiversity. This allows customers to procure products in the knowledge that the environmental and carbon impact is minimised.

“We give our customers the opportunity to support a more sustainable future for the sector by choosing construction materials that embody this commitment,” Meyer explains. “We do not just set theoretical targets for environmental performance; we are practical about what we can achieve, because we have been innovating on this front for so long.”

This is in clear contrast to a significant level of green washing in this sector, where many companies advertise a sustainable approach but without credible evidence of how their targets are to be achieved. Since 1990, AfriSam has been able to reduce the volume of carbon dioxide emissions per ton of cementitious material by 33%.

In a carbon-intensive industry like cement manufacturing, it is difficult to reduce the carbon impact without a depth of expertise and constant investment in innovation, says AfriSam Process Engineer Marieta Buckle. It is also important to consider the cost implications of any changes, given South Africa’s need for a just transition to a sustainable future.

“In our position as a developing country, our future will demand the construction of millions of houses – structures that require considerable quantities of cement,” says Buckle. “The way we pursue our just transition must take into account the affordability of these homes for the vast majority of citizens.”

AfriSam has therefore been cautious in how it sets and publicises its sustainability targets, while all along continuing to prioritise research and development into how to achieve lower carbon products. Having considered a wide variety of options available, it has implemented strategies that have the least cost impact on customers and the market.