Secil on the path to innovation: the first carbon neutral concrete

Published by: ECO newspaper

Secil has been investing in environmental protection for two decades. This effort has accelerated over the last years, in accordance with the decarbonisation goals of the Paris Agreement and the roadmaps for the decarbonisation of worldwide, European and national cement industry. This is stated by Secil Groups’ CEO, Otmar Hübscher, regarding the goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

A crucial tool in this strategy is the Verdi Zero concrete, which Hübscher presents as an innovative and sustainable product, “the first carbon neutral concrete in Portugal”. “With this new product, Secil is taking a big step in making a greener future, with more sustainable buildings and infrastructures having less impact on the environment. The Verdi Zero concrete is also in line with the commitments we made to reduce CO2 emissions in our activity”, he says. 
Therefore, the Verdi Zero concrete is a Secil innovation on product development. Maintaining the same resistance and durability characteristics of traditional concrete, Verdi Zero uses raw materials that promote circular economy through the incorporation of recycled waste, which requires less use of natural resources.

In addition, Verdi Zero is certified as a CarbonNeutral©  product, in accordance with the CarbonNeutral Protocol by Climate Impact Patterns. This is the leading framework for achieving carbon neutrality by offsetting remaining emissions in projects of external emissions reduction, and guaranteeing that, for each ton of CO2 emitted by Verdi Zero, there is one less ton in the atmosphere. “In this sense, we are supporting projects in areas such as reforestation, wind energy and solar energy, thus contributing to reduce carbon footprint and contribute to the sustainable development of local communities”, says the group’s CEO. 
“Our path to achieve the CarbonNeutral© product certification consisted not only in the development of environmental statements, which allowed to assess the product’s lifecycle and environmental impact, but also in our commitment, together with the SBTi (Science Based Target Initiative), to align with the trajectory defined by science for limiting the increase of average global temperature to 1,5ºC”, Hübscher states. 
The Verdi Zero concrete is already in production and available to the company’s customers. For greater coverage nationwide, Secil selected, in a first phase, the concrete plants of Leiria, Gaia, Frielas, Alcochete and Alcácer do Sal. Soon, it should be extended to all market needs. 
“We know that society is increasingly demanding and aware of sustainability and carbon neutrality issues, so we expect Verdi Zero to get good market acceptance. Secil designed the product, launched it and will now test customer reaction and feedback. Production will be adjusted to market demand. It is important to note that Secil was the first company to offer a carbon neutral concrete and there was no similar product on our market”, the CEO says. 
The goal and focus of the cement and concrete industry, as well as the construction sector, is to decarbonise. The industry, at a National, European and worldwide level, has defined specific goals to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, with clear milestones for reducing emissions by 2030 when it comes to cement and concrete. “This is the path. In the future, we’re expecting all concrete to be carbon neutral”. 
Verdi Zero also matches the needs of the market itself, with increasingly demanding customers, who make discerning and conscious choices. They are, more and more, the first to ask for sustainable solutions in construction. Proof of that is the increasing tendency of green buildings in construction.  
The manager points out, however, that even with the rising environmental awareness, consumers don’t always have information on the real impacts of the several materials at their disposal. Concrete is the structural construction product with the lowest environmental footprint throughout its life cycle. “This information is not always evident to public opinion. It is Secil’s job to provide this information, presenting more and more sustainable, energetically efficient solutions in construction, solutions that can be resistant and lasting”, he states. 
This product is the materialisation of the sustainability vision of the company, committed to making its economic performance compatible with environmental respect and responsible citizenship. “In terms of strategy, we can say that sustainability is embedded in all levels of management and productive processes. Our response to global climate change is to reduce carbon intensity in the production of cement, concrete and other construction materials. How? Through the increase of circular economy, the improvement of energy efficiency, the promotion of biodiversity — challenges that we will accept and overcome, with continued creation of economic value in a context of globalisation”, Hübscher underlines.