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Modelling circular economy action impacts in the building sector on the EU cement industry

Panel: 2. Sustainable production towards a circular economy

This is a peer-reviewed paper.

Matthias Rehfeldt, Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research, Germany
Andrea Herbst, Fraunhofer ISI, Germany
Samy Porteron, Ramboll Group A/S, Denmark


The 2015 Paris Agreement aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping global temperature rise in this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The industrial sector in particular will need a bundle of technologies and measures that go beyond energy efficiency and fuel switching.

In this context, circular economy is an important pillar in reducing the demand for energy-intensive raw materials and gains momentum in the political debate. This contribution to the eceee Industrial Efficiency 2020 presents the potential impacts of selected circular economy actions in the building sector on cement production and CO2-emissions in the cement industry.

The analysis is based on a bottom-up material flow modelling approach. The assessed measures include actions along the whole value chain. Some examples are the reduction of over specification, material substitution (e.g. new binders, wood use), extending buildings' lifetime, design for disassembly, etc. Results show that circularity measures could substantially contribute to the objective of a CO2-neutral economy (not taking into account rebound effects). The overall greenhouse gas reduction potential is calculated as 58% compared to a 2015 base case. In addition, the individual actions' contribution is presented. We conclude that effort along the entire value chain is necessary to enable the construction sector to contribute to European climate policy.

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