Concrete and Cement

Washington State Department of Transportation

About the Project

The Clean Energy Transition Institute, in collaboration with SEI-US, and under the direction of Derik Broekhoff, produced a Washington State Industrial Emissions Analysis for the Washington Department of Commerce in July 2021.

This Clean Materials Manufacturing project expanded upon that analysis for six manufacturing sectors—aluminum, concrete and cement, glass, iron and steel, pulp and paper, and wood products—to provide background material for Building Washington’s Clean Materials Manufacturing Economy.

You will find the concrete and cement manufacturing sector documents below:

  1. Manufacturing Sector Overview: This document explores the industry’s greenhouse gas footprint, industrial process, decarbonization strategies, and Washington workforce.
  2. Emissions and Decarbonization Strategies: This flowchart shows each step of the industrial process along with the associated emissions and relevant decarbonization strategies.
  3. Manufacturing Energy and Carbon Footprint: This document, published by the Advanced Manufacturing Office of the Department of Energy, maps the flow of energy supply, demand, and losses as well as greenhouse gas emissions for the sector.

Concrete and Cement

Sector Highlights

Industry Description

Concrete is a ubiquitous and essential building material for much of modern infrastructure in the buildings, transportation, and industrial sectors. Cement, the main binding agent in concrete, is typically produced from a feedstock of limestone, clay, and sand. Cement production requires large amounts of both thermal energy and electricity, which are typically produced from carbon-emitting fossil fuels.

Greenhouse Gas Footprint

Globally, the production of cement contributes to around 7% of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.1 There are two concrete and cement facilities (one cement kiln and one concrete product manufacturer) in Washington with over 10,000 metric tons in annual carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions. Together, these facilities accounted for approximately 380,000 metric tons of CO2e in 2019.2

Industrial Process & Decarbonization

The production of cement involves four sequential production processes: raw material extraction, raw material preparation (crushing and grinding), clinker production, and cement grinding and blending. 3

Although efficiency and use of low-carbon cement blends could significantly lower emissions, large thermal energy demands for making cement are largely unavoidable since cement kilns must typically heat raw materials to over 2,500°F. Achieving these temperatures is (currently) not practical using electrical energy sources, so fully decarbonizing cement production will likely require alternative fuels or technologies to replace the use of fossil fuels.

Additionally, even if thermal energy were fully decarbonized, cement production would still have a substantial carbon footprint due to process emissions from calcination.4 These emissions are inherent to the chemistry of current production processes, making full decarbonization of cement production technically challenging.

Therefore, unless radically new cement chemistries are developed and deployed, most studies suggest that carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) will likely contribute a majority of expected emission reductions in the cement and concrete sector.5


The concrete and cement manufacturing industry directly supports over 4,000 workers in Washington, the vast majority of whom are employed in concrete and concrete product manufacturing.

1 Energy Transitions Commission, “Mission Possible Sectoral Focus: Cement” (Energy Transitions Commission, January 2019),

2 Washington State Department of Ecology, “Facility Greenhouse Gas Reports,” accessed April 11, 2022,

3 Erickson, Peter, Michael Lazarus, Janice Adair, Justin Brant, Eli M. Levitt, Hauke Hermann, Tim Larson, Bill Ross, and Amy Wheeless. “Issues and Options for Benchmarking Industrial GHG Emissions.” Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), 2010.

4 International Energy Agency and Cement Sustainability Initiative, “Technology Roadmap: Low-Carbon Transition in the Cement Industry” (Paris, France: International Energy Agency, March 2018),

5 MPA UK Concrete, “UK Concrete and Cement Industry Roadmap to beyond Net Zero” (London, United Kingdom: UK Concrete / Mineral Products Association, 2020),; International Energy Agency and Cement Sustainability Initiative; Energy Transitions Commission.

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