ARCON’S Jason Gregory on how it is using EPD analysis for ready-mix concrete – Interview

Al Naboodah Ready-mix Concrete (ARCON) to have first fully integrated EPD facility in Dubai

Al Naboodah Ready-mix Concrete (ARCON), recently implemented Dubai’s first fully integrated Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) software.

ARCON is using German sustainability software, Gabi EPD and consulting company, Thinkstep to provide EPD analysis for their ready-mix concrete. MECN chats with Jason Gregory, operations manager at ARCON to understand why this is a step in the right direction amid increasing efforts to raise awareness about sustainable use of products and green building certifications.

What is the importance of an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)? 

The EPD gives us the ability to calculate the required environmental indicators for the life cycle of our concrete mix designs for certain specific projects or clients who require it. Also, it lets us see the environmental and sustainability impact of the products that we produce.

What are some of the reasons for implementing an EPD?

There’s a host of reasons for us moving forward with the EPD facility. The major reason relates to reducing our environmental impact with the design and production of concrete and to also streamline our internal process through that discipline. Our ongoing contracts with Expo 2020 Dubai created a need to provide EPD’s, and also being part of an integrated group, we felt there was an advantage here. We could offer a product to clients which could be a part of the sustainable life cycle of finished buildings which has a huge benefit to all stakeholders.

What is the scope of the EPD facility/software in the Dubai region? Do you see it extending to the wider ME soon?

We think it has the potential to extend extensively throughout the region and also into numerous other processes within construction. Dubai Municipality are now taking serious steps towards the process of looking at EPD’s for various other materials, so we can see multiple applications across the industry.

Al Naboodah has always considered sustainability to be of utmost importance. What long term benefits do you see going forward with the EPD facility?

Sustainability is of paramount value to Al Naboodah and the introduction of the EPD is just a small part of that process for the group. We are introducing a number of technologies that reduce our impact on the environment such as solar PVC panels and an Energy Management system, for which the introduction of the EPD software is instrumental.

Going forward, the long-term benefits of the EPD will be the ability to assess the environmental performance of ready-mix concrete with in-depth Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) and create data sets which will be posted on recognised LCA databases worldwide, benefitting the industry as a whole. The enhancement of internal and external environmental communication with all connected stakeholders will meet the growing demand for transparent and comparable information on the environmental impacts of construction materials.

What are some of the major challenges ARCON is facing in this market?  What are some of the market trends w.r.t environmentally friendly concrete?

We believe the market is still fairly buoyant but has its challenges with over supply and the usual commercial constraints. Going forward we think that clients will be looking for suppliers that can offer products which fit with their remit environmentally and also add value through the whole production process. The progression in materials technology is moving very quickly in the region and getting ahead of the curve on this front will obviously be beneficial to all stakeholders involved in the process of the supply chain.

Having an EPD, does it improve energy efficiency, minimise emissions, and reduce environmental impacts? Are statistics available to support this?

We are now in process with the first tranche of EPD verifications. Third party verification of this data is underway with our licensed provider and when that data is released it will enable us to make the specific changes that will lessen our impact environmentally.

Leading the region with an EPD facility, what are some milestones you want to achieve going forward?

Having the ability to internally produce EPD’s for construction materials creates huge advantages within the group and is a great milestone for the business. Client demand for the ability to monitor environmental impact is becoming paramount within the industry. The EPD’s when verified will be then published on an independent worldwide EPD database which will then be fully transparent for a tenure of five years.

What are some of the wider trends within the concrete and construction industry as we move into 2019? What should manufacturers and suppliers like yourselves be preparing for?

The region has always been a focal point regarding the ability to undertake and deliver major projects and the ready-mix concrete market has adapted to that over the years. There has been a change towards a more mature supply market with suppliers offering a product which has high performance characteristics as well as offering value to the customer.


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