One of OpenAir’s core missions is to use the market power of government procurement to lead the transition from traditional concrete to low-embodied carbon concrete (LECC). As part of that effort, OpenAir collector Ion Simonides helped draft a LECC resolution for the Village of Hastings-on-Hudson, New York. The Hastings Resolution was passed in May 2020 and was a big win for OpenAir because it includes language that other municipalities ready to lead on LECC can easily replicate.
With the Resolution passed, Hastings Mayor Nicola Armacost identified the replacement of a retaining wall on Hastings’ Cliff St. as the premier location for the Village’s first low carbon concrete project.
Advocates had called for a LECC resolution to help fight climate change, and the Village’s elected officials had passed it; now, it was time to do the work of implementing projects on the ground.
While LECC is a fast-growing trend, with supportive resolutions already passed in Honolulu, Austin, and by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, many experienced building and public works professionals are still learning how to implement low carbon legislation. For that reason, Ion worked closely with the Village Manager and the Village Engineer to ensure that all the necessary stakeholders were on board to use LECC for this project.
Ion started by listening to the Village Engineer about the concrete specifications he needed to meet to ensure the project’s success. Once Ion understood the concrete’s necessary strength requirements, he got in touch with the contractor for the project and asked to be connected with the contractor’s concrete provider. Ion was able to communicate the strength requirements for the project to the concrete provider and discuss the low carbon concrete options they had that would meet the technical requirements of the retaining wall while also adhering to the guidelines of the Hastings Resolution.
In the end, the Village Engineer approved the use of a 20% slag cement concrete mix for the retaining wall, which means that 20% of the cement that would have been in the concrete mix was replaced with ground granulated blast furnace slag, an industrial byproduct of steel production. The approved slag mix had an approximately 15% lower Global Warming Potential (a metric measuring the climate impacts of concrete products) than the conventional mix that would have been used. The concrete for the retaining wall was poured on October 5th, just months after the Hastings Resolution was passed.
The Cliff St. wall was a small project, about 50 cubic yards of concrete, but by leading on LECC, Hastings is setting an example that can be replicated far and wide. Working together, a motivated Mayor, building officials whose job is to ensure public safety, and a proactive Collector were able to build towards a future where our governments use low-carbon concrete.
We expect to see many, many more local governments pouring it soon!