Amazon Web Services to utilise low-carbon concrete in new facilities


Holcim US, a leader in sustainable building solutions, has announced a partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Baker Concrete Construction to provide innovative, low-carbon ECOPact concrete for the construction of several Amazon data centres in Northern Virginia.

Concrete contributes a significant share of embodied carbon in data centre construction, and AWS is undertaking initiatives to reduce the carbon impact of the concrete required. For example, AWS implemented a new design standard requiring concrete with at least a 20 per cent reduction in embodied carbon versus standard concrete for new U.S. data centres. Holcim’s ECOPact mixes are designed to allow AWS to almost double it.

“It is the choices we make today that will shape the world we live in tomorrow – and it is a changing world. New ideas, new technologies and new requirements are changing the ways we design, build and grow,” said Cedric Barthelemy, regional head, Mid-Atlantic with Holcim US. “AWS and Baker Concrete Construction are known for bold thinking across business models, which extends to the companies’ respective approaches to sustainability. Our partnership pairs AWS’ experience in data warehousing and our expertise in designing low-carbon concretes to ultimately result in contributing to a more sustainable built environment.”

Following a science-driven approach, Holcim said that it is transforming standards for the building industry. Accelerating the use of low-carbon building materials is essential for Holcim to meet its worldwide 2030 climate target of reducing scope 1 and 2 emissions per ton of cementitious materials by 25 per cent by 2030 (from a 2018 base year). Partnerships with companies like AWS further demonstrate Holcim’s commitment to leading the building materials industry into a more sustainable future.

“As part of The Climate Pledge, Amazon is committed to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2040 – ten years ahead of the Paris Agreement,” said Gurmeet Sethi, AMER head of AWS Data Center Procurement. “To help meet that commitment, AWS is focused on continuous sustainability-related innovation across our global infrastructure, and forging industry collaborations with companies like Holcim is one way we can do that. This will both allow AWS to further reduce carbon emissions associated with building of our data centres and create new opportunities to build infrastructure more sustainably across the region.”

Accelerating innovation to create more sustainable options of building materials has been a driving force behind this partnership. Holcim and Amazon Web Services, along with HITT Contracting and Baker Concrete Construction, took a new approach and worked together to develop greener solutions, prioritising the collaboration of engineers, architects, developers and builders early in the planning.

“Our approach is centered on working closely with like-minded partners, like Holcim and AWS, to drive innovation in low-carbon construction,” said DJ Gibson, project executive at Baker Concrete Construction. “As a founding member of the ACI centre of excellence for carbon-neutral concrete, this was an important project for us to demonstrate our commitment to sustainability.”

“At HITT, we always strive to minimise our footprint and find innovative ways to reduce environmental impact on our projects. By working together and implementing this solution on our AWS data center jobs, we were able to overcome perceived barriers for using low-carbon concrete in place of traditional mixes, most notably with performance and timing,” said Aaron Martens, vice president of technology at HITT Contracting. “The low-carbon benefits of ECOPact met all required design strengths at the intervals necessary to maintain the project schedule.”

ECOPact is the industry’s broadest range of green, low-carbon concrete products that provide a range of reduced carbon emissions, starting at 30 per cent, compared to standard concrete. The partnership between AWS and Holcim led to the design of innovative concrete mixes that provide 35 to 45 per cent less CO2. The use of ECOPact in the Amazon Data Center project, currently under construction, is estimated to reduce the total CO2 in the concrete by 39 per cent (compared to the concrete with 100 per cent ordinary Portland cement that would have been used otherwise).

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