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Holcim ECOPact delivers “green premium” in WA-first

Holcim

Holcim has helped a Western Australian concrete wall company to improve costs and sustainability with its ECOPact low-carbon concrete. PC Walls founder Sean King discussed the inspiration behind the switch in such a vital product for his company. 

“It’s about looking to the future,” King said. “It’s not my generation that will reap the benefits, it’s our kids and grandkids.”

PC Walls is a business built on innovation, providing concrete wall solutions to land developers and infrastructure providers, so it seized the opportunity to be the first WA company to use ECOPact, which reduces embodied carbon in concrete by 30–60 per cent.

King is rapt with the results.

He first used it for OneOneFive Hamilton Hill, developed by the state’s land development authority project, DevelopmentWA, where the demolition of a high school required part of the demolished product to be reincorporated into the new project. As part of its innovative approach to waste management and sustainable development, DevelopmentWA asked PC Walls what else it could do to expand the sustainability scope of the project, so the company pitched Holcim’s low-carbon product, ECOPact.

“ECOPact provided us with a ready-made concrete that we could demonstrate met the requirements of our clients,” King said.

His company’s noise walls already use a unique pre-cast patterned concrete system licensed from the US, which gives clients “a point of difference for their developments”.

ECOPact furthers PC Walls’ points of difference and sector leadership.

“We’re now seen as someone who can come up with creative ideas in a cost-effective way,” King said

Recycled and low carbon concrete lead to a sustainable sector

He foresees ECOPact complementing the recycling of materials in building circular economy sustainability. “We’re way behind (in WA) in terms of our need to recycle, partly because we have a good supply of existing natural resources, so it needs a push and like anything the economics need to come with them.”

PC Walls is pitching ECOPact to clients as part of a sustainability package.

“We can use it as a selling point and in 12–18 months’ time I believe we will see the move from current heated development environment, to low carbon concrete being used extensively by the wider industry on every project,” King said.

“Currently, there’s a reluctance to look outside the square in terms of specifications but it should become the norm.”

Low carbon concrete effective for meeting sustainability criteria

The business case for green building is clear. Global evidence confirms green buildings deliver a range of quantitative and qualitative benefits, including lower operating costs and higher returns, enhanced productivity, faster patient recovery times and better learning results.

ECOPact’s Green Star and Infrastructure Sustainability rating criteria are immediate and tangible benefits before those gains also affect the bottom line. Green Star-rated office buildings already deliver a 4.3 per cent “green premium” at the time of sale, a 13 per cent higher return, and a 56 per cent lower vacancy rate.

Importantly, King believes a change in thinking is required to ensure low-carbon concrete creates a genuine market that will absorb any early costs.

“In the short-term it will be a little more expensive, but unless you start using it and we make a genuine market, you’re never going to get to a stage where it’s sustainable,” he said

PC Walls doesn’t mind leading the WA sector in sustainable practice, though, particularly with its suite of reliable customers who look for unique, sustainable answers.

“At the end of the day we provide solutions,” King said. “Innovation is our point of difference and sustainability fits into that. You’ve got to have a sustainable economy and every bit helps.

“That’s how I treat everything in business and life. I can feel good about what I’m doing because I’m doing what I can do to encourage sustainability.”

This article first appeared on the Holcim website.

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