Carbon Experts of the Month May 2022
Ben Vanheuverzwijn & Kadir Aktas
This month, we were thrilled to be joined by two carbon experts: Kadir Aktas, Growth Manager, Bekaert Building Products, and Ben Vanheuverzwijn, Business Development Manager, Bekaert Building Products.
Bekaert is the global leader in steel wire transformation and coating technologies, manufacturing a wide range of steel wire solutions for the construction industry and other sectors.
What led you to specialize in sustainability?
Kadir: In 2021, Bekaert created an ambitious sustainability plan, backed up by science-based targets that connects us to the most pressing issues of the day. To deliver that, we have identified three priorities that relate to themes of environment, social and governance: Green Beyond Tomorrow, Care Beyond Tomorrow, and Trust Beyond Tomorrow. We recently have been awarded a platinum recognition level in Ecovadis rating, putting us at the top 1% of all companies assessed in the same industry category, something that we are very proud of.
Our position in the construction industry allows us to embed sustainability at the core, and ultimately become part of the solution to support our customers on their sustainability journey. For this reason, we have formed our sustainability team in Building Products with colleagues from various segments and regions who engages with key stakeholders on environmental impact. As company we have a better together mindset and we try to drive the sustainability agenda with our customers forward.
Could you explain more about your role, in particular, when and how you engage with design teams?
Ben: In the Building Products Division we offer steel fiber solutions for concrete reinforcement in industrial floors, tunnelling, precast and ready mix segments. In my role, my main focus is basement rafts and walls with a combined Dramix® steel fiber and traditional reinforcement.
In most cases, we interact with the general contractor and/or structural engineer, to whom we give extensive design support.
We are involved in the early design phase of projects because our Dramix® fiber reinforcement can influence the thickness of concrete elements which can have a broader impact on the structure of different applications in the building industry such as industrial rafts, underwater concrete, underground structures etc.
This allows us to look at different design options together with engineers and calculate how the environmental impact varies among designs which is then used as an important criteria in the decision making process.
We always try to make a first estimation of the cost benefits and lately we combine this with the embodied carbon savings as well. Since November 2021 this became possible via the One Click LCA tool not only for us but for all stakeholders using the tool. We make an LCA analysis and demonstrate the environmental impact of the design. As we reduce the amount of steel used in reinforcement, and in some cases concrete thickness, in many applications it could lead to significant CO2 savings as well as a decrease in overall cost.
How do you see awareness of carbon impacts evolving across the market?
Kadir: Decarbonization is becoming an important topic. Our customers also ramped up their efforts in reducing their carbon emissions to achieve their targets as well as meeting certain requirements. Until few years back we didn’t get a lot of questions from our customers regarding sustainability but now we receive more requests from our customers regarding our EPDs, carbon footprint and impact on circular economy. We see an increasing focus on getting building certifications to offering a more sustainable building to the owners and benefit from incentives. Some companies are driving sustainability with solid targets but many of them are at the early stage focusing on meeting regulatory requirements.
How does One Click LCA help you achieve your goals?
Ben: One Click LCA has a detailed data source which we can use to make calculations in many different countries across the world where we have customers. This allows us to have fact-based discussions and build more confidence with our customers as it is widely used by key stakeholders.
It’s a fast changing dynamic world and the tool allows users have the most updated information. It’s easier to have a customized design calculation per country, concrete qualities, fiber qualities, it’s all accessible there.
For our product offerings, we can clearly show the environmental impact of reducing material and concrete thickness and how it increases the lifespan of a wide range of different construction projects which also helps in our sales process and engineers to defend solution towards end customers.
Why did Bekaert decide to make branded constructions available for One Click LCA users?
Kadir: We recently finalized our branded construction in the tool for applications in flooring, precast and tunnelling. The branded constructions allow us to leverage the extensive database of One Click LCA to create ready to use Dramix® designs to facilitate calculations of designers, consultants and other stakeholders.
Users can search for Dramix® solutions per application and compare with traditional solutions. This is more than just providing EPD’s because in order to demonstrate the carbon savings per project you have to know the dosage of Dramix® you need per cubic meter. This gives a first indication of what levels of CO2 can be achieved.
We are confident that these constructions will be very useful not only for us but also for all external stakeholders to have quick and effective calculations.
What is the biggest challenge hindering decarbonisation progress today?
Kadir: In the last couple of years, we have seen changes in regulations in different markets bringing more focus to carbon footprints. However, changes don’t progress at the speed they should. Clear mandates on decarbonisation targets and guidance from top to bottom remain a challenge.
Decarbonisation progress requires time and effort therefore companies should be determined about their decarbonisation ambitions. Sometimes we see that there is confusion from our customers. As sustainability experts, we have an important role to support the industry to make this shift more effectively.
“Decarbonisation progress requires time and effort therefore companies should be determined about their decarbonisation ambitions. “
Kadir Aktas, Bekaert
Which best practices or lessons have helped you the most in your work?
Ben: Start with your assumptions and get more specific as you get more project specific information. In certain cases, at the early stage of the project, you have limited information. Therefore you need to make some assumptions and use generic input. However, our assumptions for LCA calculations may change as the project evolves. By adding project-specific input as we progress, we can have a more realistic view of the overall sustainability impact. Therefore the branded solutions are useful in the early stage to decide on the direction you want to move forward.
About ‘Carbon Expert of the Month’
Carbon Expert of the Month is One Click LCA’s way to showcase the expertise, inspiration and best practices of One Click LCA users. Each month, we feature experts who are passionate about reducing carbon in general and from materials in particular, who seek to push projects beyond the boundaries of common practice, and who wish to share from their personal experience.