Holcim pushes for faster blended cement adoption in Philippines
Since 2010, the Philippines has seen increased spending on infrastructure to boost the country’s development. With the incoming government pledging to continue this building drive, the construction sector will remain a major driver in the country’s economic recovery and development. In fact, the Department Trade and Industry’s Philippine Construction Industry Roadmap projects the building industry to potentially contribute up to Php 130 trillion to the economy by 2030 from Php 2.3 trillion in 2018.
The bright outlook for the sector brings many opportunities for the construction industry, but it also requires much prudence to ensure that growth is sustainable and does not result in increased consumption of finite resources. In the context of building materials, Ordinary Portland Cement (OPC) has a huge environmental footprint and its use needs to be significantly reduced. There are more alternatives available in the market today that provide the same if not better performance but with a lower environmental impact.
Building solutions provider Holcim Philippines is among those looking to make a positive difference as it joins the Holcim Group’s net zero journey to decarbonize the business from its operations and products all the way to the built environment by providing more environment-friendly alternatives. This enables the company to support the country’s recovery and help make economic development sustainable. . .
“Today, more than 55 million people are living in urban areas in the Philippines. By 2050, more than 100 million are estimated to be living in cities and the structures they need have yet to be built. The question is how do we build more with less? The local construction industry will need to focus more on doing more recycling, building with lower carbon footprint, and more sustainable solutions,” said Horia Adrian, President and CEO of Holcim Philippines.
As a response, the company has beefed up its portfolio of blended cement products having released five new building solutions since 2020 that use less virgin raw materials while delivering equal to superior building performance. Among its latest releases is Holcim ECOPlanet, a general purpose blended cement with 30% lower carbon footprint than OPC which is favoured by local builders.
“A majority of local builders still use OPC in many building applications because of the perception that it is best in providing structural strength. Our products show that our partners can achieve the same if not better performance with blended cements. OPC is a 200-year old product and it’s about time new and sustainable products are used to lower the environmental footprint of the building industry,” Adrian said.
This direction also supports the 2021 Vision Document of the Philippine Contractors Association, which identified building sustainable infrastructure as among the top 10 trends in the industry.
“It is encouraging to see more real estate developers committing to increase the share of green buildings in their overall portfolio. We are hoping to increase our involvement at the project development stage to push for greener alternatives in various aspects of building and infrastructure projects. We are also engaging our retail partners to help push the right product for the right application to the end-users,” Adrian said.
Holcim Philippines is ramping up its green building promotion by having its sales force as environmental advocates at the front lines. Furthermore, the company is engaging various stakeholders from the private and public sector including the academic community to accelerate the adoption of green building materials like low-carbon blended cements in the building industry.
For example, Holcim Philippines renewed last September its partnership with the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Engineering for an elective course that highlights the value of sustainability and inclusivity in building for development. A discussion on the importance of blended cement is discussed in the course.
The company has also been participating in dialogues with the Departments of Environment and Natural Resources, Trade and Industry, Public Works and Highways, and Climate Change Commission to advocate for increasing use of blended cements in the country.
In a meeting with stakeholders from the cement manufacturing industry in May, the Climate Change Service of the DENR acknowledged the importance of expanding the use of blended cement in reducing the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.
“The key mitigation measure identified that would reduce or avoid CO2 emissions in the industry is to substitute clinker with supplementary cementitious materials (SCMs) such as fly ash, granulated blast furnace slag, and natural pozzolan like limestone which we commonly know as blended cement. This measure would result to a total mitigation potential of 20.6 MTCO2 or about 9.1% lower than the Business As Usual (BAU) emissions scenario of the cement industry for 2020-2030,” it said.
In this regard, Holcim Philippines strongly supports the harmonization of standards and regulations across relevant government agencies to allow wider use of blended cements in public infrastructure projects. Aligning these is necessary as differences in regulation and interpretations across regulating agencies are resulting in delays and difficulties in the use of alternative materials in producing blended cement.
The company welcomes the increasing use of two of its blended cements, general purpose cement Holcim Excel and infrastructure Holcim Solido. Last year, Holcim Excel celebrated its 20th anniversary. The company estimated that over this period, Filipinos have used over a billion bags of the product to build homes, roads, bridges, and other essential structures all over the country. Holcim Solido’s volumes is similarly growing, having been used in such projects such as the Davao Coastal Road.
“Patience is a virtue, but in this case, we need a greater sense of urgency. If we can hasten making blended cement the norm, the faster it will be for us to reap its benefits. We will be able to build more with less materials and create a more positive impact on the environment,” Adrian said.
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