In English | ISSUE 2/2024

Preface: Climate anxiety

Preface: Climate anxiety

The Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra has posted on its website a lifestyle test you can take to calculate your own carbon footprint. When completing the test, I noticed it is possible to interpret the questions in different ways and choose between several options that are partly true. However, the coverage of the test with respect to the different areas of life was surprisingly good. The more you know, the greater your pain and climate anxiety.

The website of Sitra that provides the test also tells that the average carbon footprint of Finnish people is about 10,000 kg CO2 e/year. In order to reach the international carbon targets, to which Finland has also committed, every citizen should reduce their emissions to the 2,500 kg CO2 e/year level by the year 2030. That is a massive reduction.

As I took the test to determine my own carbon footprint, I could not help thinking about concrete and the BY Low Carbon Classification with the associated calculator which defines limit values with an accuracy as high as 5 CO2 kg. The aim has been to make the calculator as reliable and transparent as possible. All the specific values and calculation formulae used are the same for every user and presented in the background report posted on the public website. The calculations are performed by individuals with an understanding of concrete technology and the practical limitations of the development of concrete mixes. The calculations are also controlled and plants that wish to use the GWP classification need to undergo a certification process. This is important to ascertain the credibility of the emission values of classified concrete.

The Classification and the Calculator provided by the Concrete Association are reliable tools designed for professionals to help the industry to take great climate actions. The idea of BY Low Carbon Classification is to encourage the use of the most suitable low carbon concrete in each building project. For example, a switch with non-air-entrained C30/37 concrete from the GWP.REF class to the GWP.85 class brings a reduction of 40 kg in emissions per one cubic metre of concrete. In other words, in a concreting job of just 250 m3, the use of the GWP.85 concrete can reduce CO2 emissions to an amount equalling the annual emissions of one average Finnish person. In terms of concrete technology, this is not a very radical change, as GWP.85 class concrete is already widely available and has properties that do not significantly differ from those of existing concrete types.

It feels great to have contributed to the development of a system that will help operators in the concrete industry to opt to take huge climate actions, in some cases during a single working day. People who can impact decisions, either as private persons or as part of their job, on choosing concrete types of lower emission classes can also compare which role (private or professional) produces more significant climate actions.

For more information, please visit:

Mirva Vuori, Managing Director, Concrete Association of Finland