Arup, in partnership with Central Concrete Supply Co., Inc, a subsidiary of Vulcan Materials Company (Central Concrete) and an industry leader in low carbon concrete, and Build Momentum, Inc. (Momentum), a designer, developer, and deployer of innovative projects, recently released the Blueprint for Zero Emission Concrete Logistics. The Blueprint, funded by the California Energy Commission, details how Central Concrete can transition its medium- and heavy-duty fleet to zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) with supporting electric charging and hydrogen refueling infrastructure.
As the most abundantly used construction material in the world, concrete is a major contributor of greenhouse gases. An industry leader in sustainability, Central Concrete was the first North American building material producer to provide Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for concrete in order to quantify and demonstrate the reduction of embodied carbon in its production. They are now focused on reducing the emissions associated with the transportation of the material by addressing their concrete mixing trucks, which are among the heaviest vehicles on the road.
One of the main benefits of concrete is that it is ordered on demand throughout the construction process, but that requires trucks to frequently travel and transport it from the production plant to the job site. Concrete trucks are often the heaviest vehicles on the road and require more fuel, leading to increased greenhouse gas emissions. They are also difficult to transition to ZEVs due to their small market size, legal weight restrictions, and high energy demand.
“Central Concrete has been a national leader in sustainability by delivering low-carbon concrete. Our partnership with Central Concrete and Momentum is a substantial step forward in decarbonizing hard-to-abate heavy-duty fleet vehicles both in California and within the concrete industry,” said Raphael Sperry, an Associate Principal in Arup’s San Francisco office.
To address these barriers, Arup, Central Concrete, and Momentum researched different hydrogen and battery electric ZEV technologies to gauge market readiness, clarify the implications of the fleet transition on operations, and better understand the potential costs. After extensive research informed by community and stakeholder engagement sessions, the team found that converting Central Concrete’s fleet of concrete mixer trucks to Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs) would be the best option. This is primarily due to hydrogen fuel’s light weight and lower cost, as well as the fact that it can be stored and dispensed on-site or delivered by mobile fueling, allowing Central Concrete to limit disruption of its current fueling practices. In addition, hydrogen fuel cells create zero local emissions, which leads to cleaner air and eliminates carbon emissions when supplied by green hydrogen sources.
“Developing zero-emission solutions for concrete mixer trucks demonstrates a viable pathway for transitioning very heavy-duty vehicles to hydrogen or electric in the years ahead,” said John Friedrich, Strategist with Momentum. “We’re hopeful that the results of this Blueprint collaboration with Central Concrete and Momentum will be utilized and replicated by the concrete industry throughout California and the United States.”
Arup and Momentum are also currently supporting several additional CEC Blueprint grant teams across a variety of use cases, including retail truck fueling station operators, port operators, ferry operators, logistics and food distribution companies, airports, and local governments. With the support from CEC Blueprint grants, Arup, Momentum, and their partners will continue to develop actionable and scalable transitions for fleets that will lead to positive outcomes for communities and fleet operators throughout California and the country.