Public Webinar Schedule & Recordings

The following webinars are free and open to the public. Presentations are geared toward a lay audience. Dates and topics may be subject to change. Please sign up for email updates via this form.

Upcoming Webinars

Date Topic  
Thursday, August 20 at 11 AM ET

The Role of Concrete in Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Emission Reductions of the U.S.’s Buildings and Pavements

Concrete is critical to achieving societal sustainability goals. Its unique attributes make it the most used building material and because of this its environmental footprint is subject to significant scrutiny. Thus, the challenge of sustainable development is manifested in the use of concrete: accomplishing societal goals while minimizing environmental impacts. Concrete is a critical component of deep decarbonization efforts because it impacts the building, transportation, and industrial sectors.

This presentation will show results from an effort at the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub to contextualize the role of concrete in life cycle greenhouse gas emission (GHG) reductions of the United States’ buildings and pavements. We use a bottom-up model of current and future building and pavement stocks and construction in the US to analyze GHG reduction strategies under projected and ambitious scenarios, including embodied and use phases of the structures’ life cycle. We show that projected improvements in the building sector result in a reduction of 47% of GHG emissions in 2050 relative to 2016 levels, whereas ambitious improvements result in a 56% reduction in 2050, which is approximately 1 Gt. The pavements sector shows a larger difference between the two scenarios with a 13% reduction of GHG emissions for projected improvements and a 50% reduction under the ambitious scenario, which is approximately 70 Mt. Over 70% of future emissions from new building and pavement construction are from the use phase.

This webinar will be presented by CSHub Executive Director Jeremy Gregory.

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Past Webinar Recordings

Date Recorded Topic  
July 30, 2020

The Carbin App: Assessing Road Quality With Crowdsourced Smartphone Measurements

In this webinar, we propose, calibrate, and validate a crowdsourced approach for estimating road roughness power spectral density (PSD) based on an inverse analysis of measured vertical acceleration by a smartphone mounted in an unknown position in a vehicle. Built upon random vibration analysis of a half-car mechanistic model of roughness-induced pavement-vehicle interactions, the inverse analysis employs an L2 norm regularization to estimate, from the acceleration PSD, ride quality metrics, such as the widely-used international roughness index (IRI); as well as the half-car dynamic vehicle properties and related excess fuel consumption of the vehicle evoking the fluctuation-dissipation theorem of statistical physics. The method is validated against (1) laser-measured road roughness data for both inner city and highway road conditions, and (2) road roughness data for the state of California. We also show that road roughness predictions are only marginally affected by the phone position in the vehicle; an important condition for crowdsourced capabilities of the proposed approach.

This webinar was presented by CSHub research assistant Meshkat Botshekan.

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June 25, 2020


Resilience for Sustainability

Resilience is on everybody’s mind these days as we face the serious triple crisis of social inequalities, global warming, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As we are all in this together, it is urgent to consider how we can build resilience into our economic, social, and environmental systems. With a focus on the quantitative resilience of our national building stock from the building to community scale, the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub has and continues to develop bold approaches to address and identify means of enhancing resilience to advance sustainable development. In this webinar, we share recent developments in quantifying the resilience of buildings with respect to a number of extreme events, including hurricanes, precipitation flooding, and wildfires. Key findings of large-scale simulations combined with economic and social census data and modeling will be shared, which all show that resilience is not a commodity, but an integral condition for the sustainable development of our societies.

This webinar was presented by MIT Professor and CSHub Faculty Director Franz-Josef Ulm.

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February 27, 2020

Lowering the Embodied Environmental Impacts of Cement and Concrete

Concrete is uniquely positioned to contribute to society’s sustainability challenges including durable infrastructure, affordable housing, and resilient buildings. As the most used building material in the world, there are significant opportunities to lower the environmental footprint of concrete and the structures that use them. This presentation highlights strategies to lower the embodied impacts (of the materials) of cement and concrete, including the use of captured carbon to create concrete with a negative carbon footprint, and performance-based specifications. Combining these strategies with operational reductions in concrete structures will enable concrete to contribute to net-zero goals, along with other sustainability targets.


This webinar was presented by MIT Research Scientist and CSHub Executive Director Jeremy Gregory

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November 14, 2019

Cement as a Supercapacitor: Expanding the Functionalities of Hardened Cement Paste

More than 20 billion tons of concrete are produced every year, more than any other material on Earth, such that concrete production is responsible for about 10% of the whole anthropogenic production of CO2. Reducing CO2 emissions for concrete production, designing and optimizing material performances, resilience, and durability is hence crucial to sustainable growth and to meeting greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals.


Here we explore the possibility to expand the functionalities of hardened cement paste, which is the glue that provides strength to concrete. By adding carbon nanoparticles to the mix of cement powder and water, we demonstrate how hardened cement paste can be turned into an electrically conductive material without losing its mechanical strength. Such hybrid cementitious materials are promising candidates for designing structural super-capacitor that would allow the traditional walls of a household to serve as an energy storage device. In this talk, we will review the various steps involved in preparing a cement super-capacitor device. First, we will illustrate the rheological properties of aqueous dispersions of carbon nanoparticles and quantify the impact of the nanoparticles on the cement hydration process. Second, we will show that conductivity measurements on samples of hardened cement paste prepared with carbon nanoparticles allow us to identify a critical volume fraction in carbon nanoparticles above which the cement paste is electrically conductive and can, therefore, be used as an electrode whose mechanical properties will be quantified by nano- and micro-indentation. Finally, we will provide capacitance measurements of a cement super-capacitor prototype, confirming that the device is indeed a "super-capacitor" before emphasizing the key technical challenges that remain to be addressed for upscaling our project.


The webinar will be hosted by Thibaut Divoux, a researcher at the joint MIT-CNRS lab <MSE2> and the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub.

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September 26, 2019

The Carbin App: Cutting CO2 emissions and Monitoring the Performance of our Roads

In this webinar, we provide an update on the smartphone app Carbin which can assess the state of our infrastructure. With many improvements over the past 6 months, Carbin has now become an automatized system which, with engagement from the public, can be easily used to extract information on the quality of roads and their environmental impact at the city, state, or country scale. In Cambridge, MA, for which Carbin has recorded 350k individual measurements, we show that, when combined with traffic information, this approach can be used to optimize the management of our road infrastructure. We also discuss, a website that displays Carbin’s global impact with measurements from 20 countries and over 130k miles of analyzed data.

The webinar was hosted by CSHub researcher Jake Roxon. The app was developed in collaboration with Franz-Josef Ulm (MIT); Shahd Nara (Harvard & Carbin); Athikom Wanichku (MIT & Carbin); Bader Anini (Birzeit University & Carbin); Malik Ziq (Birzeit University & Carbin); Osama Fakhouri (Birzeit University & Carbin); Meshkat Botshekan (UMass Dartmouth); Erfan Asaadi (UMass Dartmouth); Arghavan Louhghalam (UMass Dartmouth); and Mazdak Tootkaboni (UMass Dartmouth); Joy Chamoun (American University of Beirut); Naseem Daher (American University of Beirut).

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August 22, 2019

Multiscale Poromechanics of Wet Cement Paste

Capillary effects, such as imbibition drying cycles, impact the mechanics of granular systems over time. A multiscale poromechanics framework was applied to cement paste, which is the most common building material, experiencing broad humidity variations over the lifetime of infrastructure. First, the liquid density distribution at intermediate to high relative humidity is obtained using a lattice gas density functional method together with a realistic nanogranular model of cement hydrates. The calculated adsorption/desorption isotherms and pore size distributions are discussed and compare well with nitrogen and water experiments. The standard method for pore size distribution determination from desorption data is evaluated. Second, the integration of the Korteweg liquid stress field around each cement hydrate particle provided the capillary forces at the nanoscale. The cement mesoscale structure was relaxed under the action of the capillary forces. Local irreversible deformations of the cement nanograins assembly were identified due to liquid–solid interactions. The spatial correlations of the nonaffine displacements extend to a few tens of nanometers. Third, the Love–Weber method provided the homogenized liquid stress at the micrometer scale. The homogenization length coincided with the spatial correlation length of nonaffine displacements. Our results on the solid response to capillary stress field suggest that the micrometer-scale texture is not affected by mild drying, while nanoscale irreversible deformations still occur. These results pave the way for understanding capillary phenomena-induced stresses in heterogeneous porous media ranging from construction materials to hydrogels and living systems.

This webinar was hosted by Katerina Ioannidou, a research scientist at the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub.

The MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub (CSHub) webinar series offers information of general interest to members of the building, paving, and construction communities, as well as to educators, students, journalists, and law and policy-makers interested in the environmental and economic impacts of decision-making concerning infrastructure. Videos of past webinars are archived to the CSHub YouTube Channel.

Webinars are free and open to the public. Presentations are geared toward a lay audience.

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July 18, 2019

Reducing the Environmental Impact of Concrete Through Performance-based Specifications

This webinar will provide a general overview of performance-based specifications. A review of the state of prescription in a sampling of project specifications will be first discussed. An approach to implement performance-based specifications consistent with ACI Codes and specifications will be outlined.

The attendee learning objectives are:

Understand how performance-based specifications can help lower GHG emissions and improve sustainability in concrete.
Recognize the synergy between performance-based specifications and quality, cost, and performance.
Evolve design office specifications to reduce prescription with alternative performance-based requirements.

The webinar was presented jointly by Colin Lobo, Ph.D., P.E., executive vice president of engineering at the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association, and Karthik Obla, Ph.D., P.E., vice president, technical services, also at the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association.

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June 6, 2019   

It’s Resilience, Stupid! Presenting New Approaches to Urban Resilience

Resilience is the capacity of buildings and communities to recover quickly from disasters and disruptions of normal daily life. It is often confused with robustness, a concept at the heart of engineering design.

In this webinar, we argue that robustness is not the sole driver of resilience and that the current engineering practice is insufficient to design for the resilience of buildings and communities subject to extreme wind events, earthquakes and so on. We present a suite of new approaches that explicitly target resilient building design from the assessment of wind loads in neighborhoods to the component design of buildings in their environment. These tools are illustrated through a number of case studies of recent hurricane disasters including Hurricane Irma (2017) and Hurricane Michael (2018).

The webinar was presented by MIT Professor and CSHub Faculty Director Franz-Josef Ulm.

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May 2, 2019

Doing More with Less: Economically-efficient Management of Pavement Networks

Roadway infrastructure across the United States is in desperate need of repair. But with funding shortages, departments of transportation (DOT) must continually do more with less. These funding concerns have pushed transportation agencies to adopt quantitative tools to plan their infrastructure projects.

Pavement management systems (PMS) are one such tool that DOTs use to collect, analyze, maintain, and report data on the condition of pavements in a network. Performance-based planning (PBP) for pavements involves the use of data from a PMS to project the performance of the network and implement strategies to meet performance and spending targets. It is a strategic approach to allocate limited resources where they can have the greatest impact.

This webinar described the efforts of CSHub researchers to develop new approaches to improve the methods used in pavement PBP by considering uncertainty and explicitly incorporating greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles and the construction and maintenance of pavements. Key insights from applying these methods to data from DOTs were shared in the areas of pavement and treatment types, planning horizons, and budget levels.

This webinar was presented by Randolph Kirchain, CSHub Co-Director, and MIT Principal Research Scientist.

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April 4, 2019

Cement Paste: From Improving Durability to Adding New Functionalities

More than 20 billion tons of concrete are produced every year, more than any other material on Earth, such that concrete production is responsible for about 10% of the whole anthropogenic production of CO2. Reducing CO2 emissions for concrete production, designing and optimizing material performances, resilience and durability is hence crucial to a sustainable growth and to meet greenhouse gases emissions reduction goals.

In this webinar, we explore the possibility to improve cement paste durability and expand its functionalities by adding carbon nanoparticles to the mix of cement powder and water. Having recognized that degradation mechanisms (Freeze-Thaw, ASR) are all related to the solidification of a new phase in the capillary pores of the cement paste and the development of a disjoining ionic pressure between this new phase and the cement matrix, we propose a new way to mitigate these effects by turning the capillary pores of cement paste hydrophobic by adding nano-porous carbon nanograins to the mix.

In addition, we discovered that carbon loaded cement paste exhibits a surface joule effect that allows envisaging salt-free self-deicing pavements. We also found that carbon-loaded hardened cement paste can be turned into an electrically conductive material, without losing its mechanical strength. Such hybrid cementitious materials are promising candidates for designing structural super-capacitor that would allow the traditional walls of a household to serve as an energy storage device. In this talk, we review the various steps involved in preparing a cement super-capacitor device.

This webinar was presented by Roland Pellenq (Senior Research Scoientiasrt at MIT and Director of Research art CNRS, head of <MSE>2, the Joint MIT /CNRS / Aix-Marseille University

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February 28, 2019  

FIX MY ROAD: What can YOU do (with your smartphone) to make OUR Infrastructure Great Again while addressing Climate Change?

In this webinar, we propose a new, crowdsourced way to assess the state of infrastructure. Using acceleration data from a smartphone mounted inside of a vehicle, we have developed a method to assess road roughness properties.This method can also be used to map the aggregated excess fuel consumption, associated environmental footprint, and health impact due to these road conditions. This is critical for a fiscally responsible, socially equitable and climate change conscious asset management framework for our 21st-century road infrastructure—be this at the city, state or federal scale.

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 January            31, 2019        

The CSHub in Retrospective and Perspective: Role of Molecular Modeling and Simulations

In this webinar, we share personal observations and commentaries on how the Concrete Sustainability Hub has evolved as an academic-industrial alliance at MIT, in the spirit of leveraging lessons learned to exploit anticipated opportunities. Since the Hub’s founding in 2009, molecular modeling and simulations have enabled progress toward understanding the physics and mechanics of calcium-silicate-hydrate in cement paste setting, and more generally, the mechanisms of time-dependent rheological behavior of soft-matter at the meso-scale. Given MIT’s newly declared commitments to advance the computer and computational science of artificial intelligence, we foresee an exciting role for the CSHub to shape the future of concrete science and technology.

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November 29, 2018

Development of a Rapid and Reliable Test Method to Better Predict ASR in Job Mixtures

Alkali-silica reaction (ASR) is second to corrosion as the leading cause of the premature deterioration of concrete structures in North America. This webinar presents work being conducted by MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub (CSHub) partners at the University of New Brunswick in Canada to develop a rapid, reliable and relevant test method to determine the resistance of job mixtures to ASR.

Dr. Michael Thomas, Professor of Civil Engineering, University of New Brunswick, presents a new test method which was developed in order to better predict expansion in real structures. This was achieved by developing a test where alkali leaching is minimized by placing concrete cylinders in a solution matching the internal pore solution of the concrete under test. Long-term results up to and including 900 days are presented for a number of aggregates and compared to long-term performance data from exposure sites in Austin, Ottawa and Fredericton.

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July 19, 2018

The Role of Air Entrainment in Freeze-Thaw and Corrosion Based Service Life Models for Performance

Freeze-thaw damage is a potentially serious deterioration process that occurs in concrete structures in cold climates. Air-entrainment, the intentional creation of tiny air bubbles in the material, is used to improve freeze-thaw performance. In this presentation, the role of air entrainment will be discussed based on a degree of saturation concept as it relates to the use of transport properties for 1) predicting the time to saturation for freeze thaw damage and 2) predicting the time to corrosion for concrete exposed to deicing salts. The mixture proportions will be used with theory to calculate theoretical porosity, which is compared to experimental measurements. The concepts behind the model will be discussed along with methods to measure the modeling inputs in the field. The approach used is consistent with the new AASHTO PP-84-17 approach being considered by many states.

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May 3, 2018

Liquid, crystal, or glass? A new approach to city resilience

Some cities are laid out on a precise grid where the arrangement of buildings resembles the ordering of atoms in a crystal, while others are arranged more chaotically like the disordered atoms in a liquid or glass—this “texture” reveals a lot about how a city will respond to high winds in a big storm, or to a major environmental event like a hurricane or earthquake. More recently, texture was shown to be the most important determinant of an area’s urban heat island effect.

In this webinar, MIT Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Faculty Director of the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub (CSHUb) Franz-Josef Ulm discusses his "Urban Physics” approach, which simplifies complicated city conditions to identify patterns like those seen in more complex materials and link those patterns to descriptions of city texture. Once a city's texture is known, the information can be used to improve city energy management strategies and to increase building, city, and community resilience.

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March 15, 2018

Streamlined Building Life Cycle Assessment

Life cycle assessment (LCA) seeks to quantify the environmental impacts of infrastructure over a life time by identifying and accounting for impacts resulting from each phase of the life cycle. LCA can be used to obtain credits in certification systems like LEED, but traditional LCA methods can be time, resource, and data intensive. For complex systems like residential buildings, these demands can lead to delayed assessments with evaluations carried out after important design decisions have already been made, reducing their effectiveness. CSHub researchers have developed a streamlined approach to LCA that requires significantly less time and data, which can reduce expense as well as uncertainty and allow assessments to be conducted earlier in the building design process when decisions can have the greatest impact. This webinar will present an overview of the CSHub’s streamlined tool, known as the Building Attribute to Impact Algorithm, and a discussion of recent work on the topic.

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February 15, 2018

Albedo, Climate, & Urban Heat Island

The United Nations predicts that nearly 70 percent of the global population will live in urban environments by the year 2050. This rapid urbanization is changing the surface of the planet, which has an impact on climate regionally and globally. CSHub researchers are studying the effects of albedo, which is the measure of the fraction of solar energy reflected by the Earth’s surface, on climate and the urban heat island effect (defined as a temperature difference between urban areas and their rural surroundings where the city temperature is higher). Lighter color surfaces have a high albedo and reflect light, while darker surfaces have low albedo and absorb light. CSHub researchers have developed an approach to quantify the impacts of changing pavement albedo on the climate and building energy demand and then translate both of those into global warming potential. This webinar describes the approach and results from recent studies.

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Download the updated Slide Deck (Revised 2/21/18)

January 18, 2018

Inspired by Antiquity: The Future of Durable, Sustainable Infrastructure

The Masic Lab at MIT is working to unlock the secrets of ancient materials including Roman concrete and pigments such as Mayan and Egyptian blues. In this webinar, Admir Masic, the Esther and Harold E. Edgerton Career Development Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), will discuss what engineers could learn from his lab’s “antiqua-inspired methodology”-- where ancient technologies, practices, and techniques guide the development of future materials -- about constructing longer-lasting modern infrastructure with lowered environmental impacts.

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December 7, 2017

Pavements: Competition

When sustained competition exists in a market, the price for similar goods is expected to go down. This webinar will present CSHub research that illustrates how this economic principle holds true with paving materials -- which could mean significant savings for DOTs and taxpayers, alike.

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September 21, 2017

Pavement Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)

Life cycle assessment (LCA) considers the environmental impact of all life-cycle phases. For pavements, this includes operation, maintenance, and end of life phases, as well as factors such as traffic delay, lighting demand, and future maintenance. This webinar will present MIT CSHub models that quantify environmental impacts across phases, from manufacturing to disposal, and also offer a detailed analysis of the use phase.

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August 17, 2017

Building Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)

To understand the full environmental impact of a structure over decades of use, all phases, starting before construction and continuing through demolition, must be considered. Life cycle assessment (LCA) seeks to quantify environmental impacts over the infrastructure life cycle by identifying the costs during each phase. This webinar will present a detailed look at CSHub research on this topic.

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June 29, 2017

Pavement Vehicle Interaction (PVI): Design and Maintenance

Pavement vehicle interaction (PVI), an examination of the interaction between a vehicle’s tires and the roadway surface on which it is driving, leads to excess fuel consumption (EFC) and, as a result, smog and greenhouse gas emissions. This impacts drivers, states, and municipalities financially. This webinar will present CSHub research which has led to models that quantify excess fuel consumption due to PVI for pavement segments and pavement networks.

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May 25, 2017

Building Life Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA), With Hazard Resistance

This webinar presents a building life cycle cost analysis (LCCA) approach developed by CSHub researchers that combines initial construction costs with several types of operational costs, including costs associated with energy consumption and repairs due to damage from hazards.

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March 30, 2017

Pavement Life Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA): Price Projection Modeling

Life cycle cost analysis (LCCA) enables engineers, designers, and decision makers to better understand the economic impacts of infrastructure decisions over time and identifies opportunities to reduce impacts. This webinar will present CSHub pavements LCCA research, including a study conducted in collaboration with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) that showed material-specific price projections are more accurate than the conventional assumption that pavement prices follow the average rate of economic inflation.

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March 2, 2017

An Overview of CSHub Pavements-Related Research

Pavements-related research by the MIT CSHub focuses on improving structure and design, which can lead to increased fuel efficiency, lower maintenance costs, and better life cycle planning. Topics discussed will include life cycle assessment (LCA); life cycle cost analysis (LCCA); and Pavement vehicle interaction (PVI).

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January 26, 2017

An Overview of CSHub Buildings-Related Research

This webinar offers an overview of the CSHub's buildings-related research, including discussion of CSHub studies on life cycle assessment; life cycle cost analysis (with hazard resistance); building energy consumption; and city energy consumption. 

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