Contempra, a new limestone cement for a low CO2 concrete in Canada

Posted on December 05, 2013

To meet the growing demand for sustainable construction and respond to competing materials, Lafarge Canada East and West have launched Contempra, a limestone cement that reduces greenhouse gas emissions. And thanks to a lobbying campaign, Contempra allowed Lafarge to change the image of concrete for public authorities as a more environmental friendly material!

Responding to Competition

Wood, plastic, steel: over the past few years in Canada, under the influence of the public authorities, competing building materials have developed solutions for sustainable construction. In comparison, concrete was perceived as less environmentally friendly, mainly because of the carbon footprint of cement.

In 2011, teams of Lafarge Canada East and West, in collaboration with the Cement Association of Canada, have responded with the launch of a new cement: Contempra.

With up to 15% limestone, it requires less clinker and therefore less energy-consumption and CO2-releasing combustion. As a result, it reduces greenhouse gases emissions by up to 10% in manufacturing, while providing performance comparable to conventional cement. Contempra allows us to re-open the discussion and change the misperception of concrete with construction decision-makers and specifiers. Now with a "greener" main ingredient, concrete has a lower cradle-to-cradle embodied energy story to share", explains Andrea Boddy, a Marketing Director for Lafarge Canada East.

A Lobbying Campaign to Accelerate Time to Market

In order to launch Contempra, Lafarge Canada West and East participated in a lobbying campaign with the Cement Association to allow cement with 15% limestone in the building code of the Federal Government and the Provinces.

"The Federal and Provincial building codes are on 4-year terms in Canada, says Andrea Boddy. To accelerate time to market, we had conversations with both the environmental, transportation and housing branches of Federal and Provincial Governments. And they saw clearly that allowing an early acceptance of Contempra was the right thing for their constituents. As a result, 15% limestone cements have been incorporated into the standards in just one year."

A Product in Line with Customer Needs

Contempra's assets meet the needs of different types of customers:

  • Public authorities have the guarantee of good environmental outcomes and performance;
  • Architects can earn points for LEED® environmental certification for their projects;
  • Concrete producers and precastersget better pumpability and finishability without compromising on strength

"Contempra is not directed to a particular market segment, says John Pistak, Marketing Director for Lafarge Canada West. We aim to substitute 100% of all Canadian conventional cement sales with Contempra, so we offer it to all our customers."

The initial results are promising: in 2012, over 107,000 tons of Contempra were sold across Canada, generating a gross margin of over €700,000! For 2013, sales could reach almost350,000 tons for Eastern (13.7% of Lafarge grey cement sold for the year) and Western Canada combined (7.6% of grey cement sales)!

Lafarge Canada teams do not intend to stop here, as more work on sulfate environments(soils are an issue in many Canadian markets) and acceptance for some Provinces infrastructure codes will open more doors into 2014.

A Joint Effort by Lafarge Cement and Concrete!

In Western and Eastern Canada, the Cement and Concrete teams have tested and proven together the performance of concrete incorporating Contempra in paving at cement plants and ready-mix plant yards, testing it under extreme conditions (cold, salting, heavy truck traffic, etc.). Transversal work has also been done to organize field demonstrations allowing specifiers to experience Contempra's suitability for the Canadian climate.

Categories: Industry News