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Blog - Building sustainably with concrete

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Sustainability is playing an increasingly important role in construction, which makes it more important that we are aware of how we handle raw materials and production processes. This means continuous development, innovation and looking to the future.

8 February 2022

Bosch Beton is a leader in sustainability. We aim to reduce our environmental impact, minimise our and our customers’ carbon footprint and work towards a future retaining wall production that is 100% circular and cement-free. In using our products our customers are building towards a sustainable future.

Sustainable and high-quality

Bosch Beton retaining walls are high-quality and sustainable products for now and for the future. The retaining walls are made from sustainable raw materials without compromising on quality, so we can reduce our products’ environmental impact. With a service life of up to a hundred years, a retaining wall can easily be given a second lease of life, also for the generations that come after us. Our concrete construction elements are certified in line with the strictest requirements, including KIWA/KOMO and Güteschutz. Bosch Beton is one of the first retaining wall producers worldwide to obtain a CSC Gold certificate (Concrete Sustainability Council), which demonstrates that we produce sustainable and responsible concrete products.

Production

Production at our state-of-the-art factory in Barneveld is all about sustainability. This first sustainable concrete factory in the Netherlands was built in accordance with BREEAM-NL Outstanding standards. It is a factory that reflects the management’s vision. We aim to optimise our use of raw materials and reuse these where possible, with respect for our environment. For instance, we use sustainable materials and recycled products, and work with sustainable systems. 18,500 solar panels on the factory roof supply us with power. We capture rainwater in a 2,100m3 reservoir and reuse the filtered water in our production process.

Discover more about our state-of-the-art factory

ECI

If we are to contribute to a sustainable living environment, future projects need be implemented in a climate-neutral and circular way. The ECI (Environmental Cost Indicator) was initiated for this. The ECI is a fictive price that reflects the costs you would need to make to compensate for the negative environmental impact of producing a product. We are the first retaining wall supplier in the Netherlands to receive a verified Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) on our retaining walls. This assessment indicates where the raw material originates, what Bosch Beton does with this, what happens at the customer, the retaining wall’s service life and what happens with the wall after this.

The ECI will start to play an even greater role in tenders for large projects in the Netherlands, including those from Rijkswaterstaat. Rijkswaterstaat is focusing on low ECI values to achieve its climate-neutral objective by 2030 and to realise a circular construction sector. In this way Rijkswaterstaat is stimulating the market to develop sustainable innovations. Rijkswaterstaat uses its own DuBoCalc tool (Sustainable Construction Calculator) to calculate the sustainability and environmental costs of entire construction projects. The tool aims to achieve environmental gains when designing, implementing and tendering for civil engineering works. A DuBoCalc calculation and the lowest possible ECI value form an award criterion that makes a positive contribution to a MEAT (Most Economically Advantageous Tender) or Best Price Quality Ratio (BPQR) tender. Our retaining walls are also included in this tool.

Innovation

We need be aware of how we handle raw materials and production processes, which is why we keep on developing, innovating and looking to the future. One way to do this is to adjust our mixtures. Take the Ecomix, for example, which emits 17% less CO2 and is more acid resistant. We adjusted the concrete mixture for ProRail’s new platform walls and are producing the walls in two-metre lengths instead of one, resulting in a more efficient use of materials and savings on transport.

Cement production generates approximately 8% of global CO2 emissions, so any steps taken in this process will have a significant impact. Our ultimate goal is to work entirely cement-free. However, cement cannot be replaced just like that, which is why we have developed a step-by-step plan towards cement-free production. We are working with other producers and companies in the chain on this. If we succeed, European certification and standardisation will follow. Cooperation within the chain is vital in this. Some traditional concrete producers prefer not to change, so it’s quite a challenge and the stakes are high.

In a year, we process around 200 million kilos in raw materials. More trucks arrive every day with raw materials for a day’s concrete production. Every small change or improvement we can make will already make a huge quantitative difference. We are investing in such things as a new reinforcement machine so we can make everything exactly to size and, as we don’t need to throw anything away, this also results in savings. Last year, we further expanded our storage bunkers, enabling us to store even more different materials for production, including sand, gravel, granite, as well as rubble and other residual materials from customers. We also renovated and rebuilt silos from our old factory to create extra storage capacity.

 Devouring former factory

The former factory in Kootwijkerbroek was demolished after Bosch Beton moved into its new state-of-the-art factory in Barneveld. We processed 20,000 tonnes of rubble into granulate for use as a raw material for new retaining walls. A third of the debris has now been reused to produce high-quality concrete retaining walls. We’re devouring the old factory, as it were! A solar farm of around 10 ha is being built on the former site: Zonnepark Branderwal. This farm with its 75,000 solar panels is due for completion by end 2022 and will supply green energy to the immediate living environment of Kootwijkerbroek.
We aim to produce our retaining walls in a 100% circular way in the future so that our products are fully recyclable after their service life.

Sound partner

Our partners include our customers and partnerships and we enter into long-term relationships with them, based on mutual trust and a focus on the future. We invest in these relationships by putting ourselves in our partner’s shoes, contributing ideas and advising them to reach a genuine and effective customised solution. Supporting customers, personal and full service-oriented contact, customisation, the highest quality and fast delivery make Bosch Beton a sound partner for civil engineering projects, from quotation request to project delivery. It is important that we keep to any agreements we make and that we remain in contact with the customer, even when a project is complete. Our commitment and loyalty to our customers is high.

Further information

If you would you like to know more about how Bosch Beton handles sustainability, contact Bosch Beton CEOs Brechtje van den Beuken-van den Bosch or Gerard van den Bosch. If you would like more information about our products, feel free to contact one of our advisors.