Chapter 6.2 Buildings

Use geopolymer cement

Use policy to drive the adoption and use of low-carbon geopolymer cement.

UK Govt
Scottish Govt
Local Authorities
Emissions reduction
Behaviour change

The cement industry is one of the world’s largest industrial emitters of climate emissions, responsible for about 8% of CO2 emissions.151 Geopolymer cement has a significantly lower carbon footprint than traditional cement.

Geopolymer technology already exists and raw materials are readily available. Actions which would increase the take up of Geopolymer cement include:

  • procurement can foster the demand for the development of the product. It should look at performance based outcomes and whole-life costing not just what is the initial cost. Telling the market exactly what product you want allows development and innovation to come up and the market to provide the solutions
  • adopt performance-based specifications. The existing British Standard for cement is based on the fraction of Portland cement, rather than an actual measure of strength. The main reason why Australia is so far ahead with the adoption and use of geopolymer is that they have performance-based standards for concrete which focus on strength and flexibility. The Australian standards allow for the use of noncementitious materials for the production of concrete. For example, according to Australian specifications materials should be: environmentally sustainable, follow circular economy principles, have extended life over traditional materials, be fully recyclable and reduce the maintenance costs
  • promote demand-side adoption rapidly through the specification processes. Consider how to influence specifiers. This could be achieved through demonstrators and through making geopolymer and other low carbon technologies more widely known about
  • engage the government in procurement. For example, the Government in Australia accounts for 30% of demand. So, if the government demands geopolymer bridges, pipes, etc, then the industry will follow
  • establish knowledge transfer with other countries that are more advanced in the production and application of geopolymer such as Australia. This will make it easier for Scotland to take the first steps
  • share positive and encouraging stories about geopolymer such as the fact that geopolymer concrete costs exactly the same as conventional concrete in Australia. Another convincing example is that a whole bridge was made of geopolymer in Australia
  • set up geopolymer demonstrators to prove the technology and attract investment

Based on these recommendations, the Scottish Government should develop a strategy to increase the use of geopolymer cements in Scotland.

For further information:

Version 1.0: September 2023

The contents of this document will be updated on a regular basis.