Joint project "Low energy concrete"


This joint project aims to provide solutions for drastically reducing the energy consumed for the construction of buildings. As the energy embedded in building materials accounts for a substantial amount of the total life cycle energy consumption of modern, energy-efficient buildings, the project strives for solutions that can be implemented in a medium-term perspective in the construction sector.




"Low energy concrete" team discusses implementation strategies with external partners"Low energy concrete" team discusses implementation strategies with external partners 11:00:00 PM

Project description (ongoing research project)

The cement industry has already made major efforts to reduce fossil energy consumption and its associated CO2 emissions. However, further reductions of cement in concrete are limited by the fact that cement acts as the binder to provide mechanical strength and also protects steel against corrosion. Higher clinker substitution is feasible in concrete, although a lot of research will be required in order to improve strength, shrinkage and other parameters. However, this would no longer guarantee protection of the steel because of the low pH of the concrete.


The objective of this joint project is to examine and substantially reduce the embodied energy arising from national sources such as cement, as well as grey energy that is embedded in steel products from abroad. One research group is setting out to gain a better understanding of steel corrosion and to achieve cement substitution of up to 40 percent, which is of great interest with respect to short-term improvements. Other groups aim to tackle this problem by exploring reinforced concrete constructions without steel reinforcement bars, using other tensile resistant materials such as wood, pre-stressed carbon-fibre polymer and synthetic fibres. The balance between the benefits of eliminating steel and the potential disadvantages of using alternative materials needs to be assessed in order to maintain the overall focus of the joint project on sustainable construction. Another challenging question to be answered by this joint project concerns ways in which these radical innovations can be implemented in frame structures.


Reducing the cement content and removing steel from concrete lowers drastically the energy requirement for construction, which is the first essential step called for in the energy strategy 2050. Most of the project results are feasible for local construction companies.

Original title

Concrete Solutions

Principal Investigators

Leader of the joint project

  • Prof. Guillaume Habert, Institut für Bau- und Infrastrukturmanagement, ETH Zürich

Deputy leader of the joint project

  • Prof. Eugen Brühwiler, Laboratoire de maintenance, construction et sécurité des ouvrages, EPF Lausanne


The joint project consists of five research projects

Formulation, use and durability of concrete with low clinker cements

  • Prof. Robert J. Flatt, Institut für Baustoffe, ETH Zürich; Prof. Bernhard Elsener, Prof. Karen Scrivener, Dr. Marta Palacios

Next generation UHPFRC for a sustainable built environment

  • Dr. Emmanuel Denarié, Laboratoire de maintenance, construction et sécurité des ouvrages, EPF Lausanne; Prof. Eugen Brühwiler, EPF Lausanne

Beech wood concrete hybrid structures

  • Prof. Andrea Frangi, Institut für Baustatik und Konstruktion, ETH Zürich; Prof. Ingo Burgert

Low-clinker, high-performance concrete elements pre-stressed with carbon-fiber reinforced polymer reinforcement (LCHPC)

  • Prof. Pietro Lura, Abteilung Analytische Chemie, EMPA Dübendorf; Dr. Giovanni Pietro Terrasi

Getting more out of Structures through Monitoring and Simulation

  • Prof. Eleni Chatzi, Institut für Baustatik und Konstruktion, ETH Zürich; Prof. Eugen Brühwiler, EPF Lausanne



Further information on this content


Prof. Guillaume Habert Infrastrukturmanagement Stefano Franscini Platz 5
HIL F 27.3
8093 Zürich +41 44 633 05 60

Products of the project