MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub
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Concrete Sustainability Hub Resources

Learn About Our Work

CSHub researchers collaborate with and communicate key results to industry partners, DOTs (departments of transportation), the construction industry, and other key decision-makers. The materials in this section are designed to aid in communicating about our research activities. View materials below.

Browse Resources by Topic

Browse journal articles, topic summaries, research briefs, and more published by CSHub researchers.

Increasing urbanization means that policies enacted in cities are critical to mitigating the effects of climate change, urban heat island (UHI) effects, and natural or man-made disasters. CSHub research analyzes the economic, environmental, and hazard resistance impacts of building configuration and design in urban environments. This includes studying the UHI effect, which is defined as a temperature difference between urban areas and their rural surroundings where the city temperature is higher, and investigating ways to make cities more energy-efficient.

Topic Summaries

Research Briefs

Publications

There are many factors that must be considered before evaluating claims that one or another building type or product offers a better environmental return. 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 the environmentalimpacts over the infrastructure life cycle by identifying the costs during each phase.

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.

News

Topic Summaries

Research Briefs

Publications

A life cycle cost analysis (LCCA) is an analysis methodology that enables engineers, designers, and decision-makers to better understand the economicimpacts of infrastructure decisions over time along with the opportunities that exist to reduce impacts. CSHub buildings LCCA research considers life cycle, context, and future, and also incorporates costs due to anticipated hazards.

News

Topic Summaries

Research Briefs

Publications

Concrete sustainability begins at the most fundamental level: understanding the molecular structure of cement paste—calcium-silicate-hydrate (C-S-H), the main product of the hydration of portland cement and the primarily responsible for strength in cement-based materials.

News

Research Briefs

Publications

Carbon uptake, or carbonation, is a natural process of permanently sequestering CO2 from the atmosphere by hardened cement-based products like concretes and mortars. Through this reaction, these products form different kinds of limes or calcium carbonates. This uptake occurs slowly but significantly during two phases of the life cycle of cement-based products: the use phase and the end-of-life phase. The CSHub is investigating the impact of carbon uptake on concrete’s life cycle.


News

Research Briefs


Publications

Circular technologies like alternative fuels and recycled aggregates can enable a circular value chain for the cement and concrete industries.

Research Briefs

Publications

Clinker, the residue formed by high-temperature burning of coal or similar materials, plays an important role in the composition of cement and contributes to the properties of cement in different ways. Our research provides a fundamental understanding of the relationship between the surface energy of cement phases (the phases in clinker) and their electronic structure using quantum mechanics-based simulations. Researchers use this knowledge to suggest strategies for modifying clinker materials to improve those materials and lower carbon dioxide emissions. The discoveries and validations made possible by CSHub models would have taken decades to achieve experimentally.

Research Briefs

Publications

The CSHub has long investigated multifunctional concrete, and has uncovered a way to store energy in a mixture of carbon black, cement, and water. The technology has potential applications towards bulk energy storage, on-road EV charging, self-heating pavements, energy-autarkic structures, and more.

News

Publications

Life cycle assessment (LCA) considers all life-cycle phases from initial construction to demolition. For pavements, this includes the operation, maintenance, and end of life phases, and factors such as traffic delay, lighting demand, and future maintenance. CSHub models quantify environmental impacts across a pavement’s life cycle from manufacturing to disposal and offer detailed analyses of the use phase.

News

Topic Summaries

Research Briefs

Publications

A life cycle cost analysis (LCCA) is an analysis methodology that enables engineers, designers, and decision-makers to better understand the economic impacts of infrastructure decisions over time along with the opportunities that exist to reduce impacts. CSHub pavements LCCA research considers life cycle, context, and future, and also incorporates risk.

News

Topic Summaries

Research Briefs

Publications

Pavement vehicle interaction (PVI) is a concept that looks at the interaction between a vehicle’s tires and the roadway surface on which it is driving. It is also known as rolling resistance. Three factors relating to a road’s surface condition and structural properties contribute significantly to PVI: roughness, which refers to how bumpy or smooth a road is; texture, the abrasiveness of the road surface; and deflection, the bending of a pavement under the weight of a vehicle. Traffic patterns and temperature are influential factors as well.

PVI leads to excess fuel consumption (EFC), which is wasted fuel consumption beyond what is required to move a vehicle. EFC contributes to smog and greenhouse gas emissions and impacts drivers, states, and municipalities financially.

CSHub research has led to models that quantify excess fuel consumption due to PVI for pavement segments and pavement networks.

News

Topic Summaries

Research Briefs

Publications

Albedo is a measure of a surface’s reflectivity — surfaces with low albedo reflect less light than do surfaces with high albedo. This has several implications for combatting phenomena such as the urban heat island effect. “Cool pavements,” those high in albedo, reflect more sunlight into the atmosphere, increasing ambient temperatures less than dark pavements.

NEWS

Publications

The CSHub has long investigated multifunctional concrete, and has uncovered a way to store energy in a mixture of carbon black, cement, and water. The technology has potential applications towards bulk energy storage, on-road EV charging, self-heating pavements, energy-autarkic structures, and more.

News

Publications

In 2017, America’s roads received a D rating by the American Society of Civil Engineers. For cities and states to improve their grade, they must first be able to accurately measure the quality of their pavements. Unfortunately, this often proves expensive and challenging.

To address this problem, CSHub researchers have created Carbin, an app that directs users to their destination while measuring pavement quality and its effect on fuel consumption.

With every trip they take, Carbin users contribute to a growing public map of pavement and emissions data that can help to inform infrastructure repair and fight climate change. Carbin has already surveyed hundreds of thousands of lane miles around the globe in countries like Mexico, China, and the United States.

Learn more about the app and the research behind it in this article in The New York Times or in the topic summary and research brief below. You can download Carbin on Google Play or the App Store.

News

Topic Summaries

Research Briefs

Publications

Life cycle assessment (LCA) considers all life-cycle phases from initial construction to demolition. For pavements, this includes the operation, maintenance, and end of life phases, and factors such as traffic delay, lighting demand, and future maintenance. CSHub models quantify environmental impacts across a pavement’s life cycle from manufacturing to disposal and offer detailed analyses of the use phase.

News

Topic Summaries

Research Briefs

Publications

A life cycle cost analysis (LCCA) is an analysis methodology that enables engineers, designers, and decision-makers to better understand the economic impacts of infrastructure decisions over time along with the opportunities that exist to reduce impacts. CSHub pavements LCCA research considers life cycle, context, and future, and also incorporates risk.

News

Topic Summaries

Research Briefs

Publications

Pavement management systems are a form of asset management that provide a framework by which transportation agencies monitor the performance of their pavement networks, set performance targets, and implement strategies to meet those performance targets. CSHub research in this area seeks to improve the methods used to allocate available funding across the needs of the pavement network by developing models to predict the performance of the network and optimize the allocation of funds. This process of performance-based planning enables economically efficient management of pavement networks by optimizing pavement network performance for a given cost.

News

Topic Summaries

Research Briefs

Publications

Pavement vehicle interaction (PVI) is a concept that looks at the interaction between a vehicle’s tires and the roadway surface on which it is driving. It is also known as rolling resistance. Three factors relating to a road’s surface condition and structural properties contribute significantly to PVI: roughness, which refers to how bumpy or smooth a road is; texture, the abrasiveness of the road surface; and deflection, the bending of a pavement under the weight of a vehicle. Traffic patterns and temperature are influential factors as well.

PVI leads to excess fuel consumption (EFC), which is wasted fuel consumption beyond what is required to move a vehicle. EFC contributes to smog and greenhouse gas emissions and impacts drivers, states, and municipalities financially.

CSHub research has led to models that quantify excess fuel consumption due to PVI for pavement segments and pavement networks.

News

Topic Summaries

Research Briefs

Publications

Albedo is a measure of a surface’s reflectivity — surfaces with low albedo reflect less light than do surfaces with high albedo. This has several implications for combatting phenomena such as the urban heat island effect. “Cool pavements,” those high in albedo, reflect more sunlight into the atmosphere, increasing ambient temperatures less than dark pavements.

NEWS

Publications

The Alkali-Silica Reaction (ASR) causes expansion and cracking in concrete. This can result in structural problems in concrete infrastructure that can limit the infrastructure’s service life and also generate high maintenance costs. CSHub research seeks to better understand the reaction and its mechanisms, which is key to determining solutions that will prolong the life of concrete infrastructure.

News

Research Briefs

Publications

The CSHub has long investigated multifunctional concrete, and has uncovered a way to store energy in a mixture of carbon black, cement, and water. The technology has potential applications towards bulk energy storage, on-road EV charging, self-heating pavements, energy-autarkic structures, and more.

News

Publications

Creep, the gradual structural deformation in concrete under a load, it is known to impact on the durability of concrete structures. CSHub researchers are working to better understand what causes creep starting at the nanoscale.

News

Research Briefs

Publications

Flooding is both one of the most frequent and one of the most devastating natural disasters. A majority of cities analyzed in a UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs report were found to be highly vulnerable to flood-related mortality (76%) and/or economic losses (72%). Even cities with low levels of flood exposure must take the hazard seriously: 26.5% of cities studied had low flood exposure but high flood-related mortality risk, 24.0% of cities studied had low flood exposure yet high flood-related economic risk. The CSHub is investigating novel flood modeling methodologies to better capture risk to urban areas.


News

Research Briefs

In hazard-prone areas, hazard-induced maintenance costs can be significant over the lifetime of a building. In fact, the costs of hazard-related repairs can exceed the initial building cost. Our team has developed a building life cycle cost analysis (LCCA) approach that incorporates operational costs associated with energy consumption and repairs due to damage from hazards. Our case studies have demonstrated that investing in more hazard-resistant residential construction in certain locations is very cost-effective.

News

Topic Summaries

Research Briefs

Publications

Life cycle assessment (LCA) considers all life-cycle phases from initial construction to demolition. For pavements, this includes the operation, maintenance, and end of life phases, and factors such as traffic delay, lighting demand, and future maintenance. CSHub models quantify environmental impacts across a pavement’s life cycle from manufacturing to disposal and offer detailed analyses of the use phase.

News

Topic Summaries

Research Briefs

Publications

A life cycle cost analysis (LCCA) is an analysis methodology that enables engineers, designers, and decision-makers to better understand the economic impacts of infrastructure decisions over time along with the opportunities that exist to reduce impacts. CSHub pavements LCCA research considers life cycle, context, and future, and also incorporates risk.

News

Topic Summaries

Research Briefs

Publications

Increasing urbanization means that policies enacted in cities are critical to mitigating the effects of climate change, urban heat island (UHI) effects, and natural or man-made disasters. CSHub research analyzes the economic, environmental, and hazard resistance impacts of building configuration and design in urban environments. This includes studying the UHI effect, which is defined as a temperature difference between urban areas and their rural surroundings where the city temperature is higher, and investigating ways to make cities more energy-efficient.

Topic Summaries

Research Briefs

Publications

There are many factors that must be considered before evaluating claims that one or another building type or product offers a better environmental return. 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 the environmentalimpacts over the infrastructure life cycle by identifying the costs during each phase.

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.

News

Topic Summaries

Research Briefs

Publications

A life cycle cost analysis (LCCA) is an analysis methodology that enables engineers, designers, and decision-makers to better understand the economicimpacts of infrastructure decisions over time along with the opportunities that exist to reduce impacts. CSHub buildings LCCA research considers life cycle, context, and future, and also incorporates costs due to anticipated hazards.

News

Topic Summaries

Research Briefs

Publications

In hazard-prone areas, hazard-induced maintenance costs can be significant over the lifetime of a building. In fact, the costs of hazard-related repairs can exceed the initial building cost. Our team has developed a building life cycle cost analysis (LCCA) approach that incorporates operational costs associated with energy consumption and repairs due to damage from hazards. Our case studies have demonstrated that investing in more hazard-resistant residential construction in certain locations is very cost-effective.

News

Topic Summaries

Research Briefs

Publications

In 2017, America’s roads received a D rating by the American Society of Civil Engineers. For cities and states to improve their grade, they must first be able to accurately measure the quality of their pavements. Unfortunately, this often proves expensive and challenging.

To address this problem, CSHub researchers have created Carbin, an app that directs users to their destination while measuring pavement quality and its effect on fuel consumption.

With every trip they take, Carbin users contribute to a growing public map of pavement and emissions data that can help to inform infrastructure repair and fight climate change. Carbin has already surveyed hundreds of thousands of lane miles around the globe in countries like Mexico, China, and the United States.

Learn more about the app and the research behind it in this article in The New York Times or in the topic summary and research brief below. You can download Carbin on Google Play or the App Store.

News

Topic Summaries

Research Briefs

Publications

Life cycle assessment (LCA) considers all life-cycle phases from initial construction to demolition. For pavements, this includes the operation, maintenance, and end of life phases, and factors such as traffic delay, lighting demand, and future maintenance. CSHub models quantify environmental impacts across a pavement’s life cycle from manufacturing to disposal and offer detailed analyses of the use phase.

News

Topic Summaries

Research Briefs

Publications

A life cycle cost analysis (LCCA) is an analysis methodology that enables engineers, designers, and decision-makers to better understand the economic impacts of infrastructure decisions over time along with the opportunities that exist to reduce impacts. CSHub pavements LCCA research considers life cycle, context, and future, and also incorporates risk.

News

Topic Summaries

Research Briefs

Publications

Pavement management systems are a form of asset management that provide a framework by which transportation agencies monitor the performance of their pavement networks, set performance targets, and implement strategies to meet those performance targets. CSHub research in this area seeks to improve the methods used to allocate available funding across the needs of the pavement network by developing models to predict the performance of the network and optimize the allocation of funds. This process of performance-based planning enables economically efficient management of pavement networks by optimizing pavement network performance for a given cost.

News

Topic Summaries

Research Briefs

Publications

Pavement vehicle interaction (PVI) is a concept that looks at the interaction between a vehicle’s tires and the roadway surface on which it is driving. It is also known as rolling resistance. Three factors relating to a road’s surface condition and structural properties contribute significantly to PVI: roughness, which refers to how bumpy or smooth a road is; texture, the abrasiveness of the road surface; and deflection, the bending of a pavement under the weight of a vehicle. Traffic patterns and temperature are influential factors as well.

PVI leads to excess fuel consumption (EFC), which is wasted fuel consumption beyond what is required to move a vehicle. EFC contributes to smog and greenhouse gas emissions and impacts drivers, states, and municipalities financially.

CSHub research has led to models that quantify excess fuel consumption due to PVI for pavement segments and pavement networks.

News

Topic Summaries

Research Briefs

Publications

The Alkali-Silica Reaction (ASR) causes expansion and cracking in concrete. This can result in structural problems in concrete infrastructure that can limit the infrastructure’s service life and also generate high maintenance costs. CSHub research seeks to better understand the reaction and its mechanisms, which is key to determining solutions that will prolong the life of concrete infrastructure.

News

Research Briefs

Publications

Concrete sustainability begins at the most fundamental level: understanding the molecular structure of cement paste—calcium-silicate-hydrate (C-S-H), the main product of the hydration of portland cement and the primarily responsible for strength in cement-based materials.

News

Research Briefs

Publications

Clinker, the residue formed by high-temperature burning of coal or similar materials, plays an important role in the composition of cement and contributes to the properties of cement in different ways. Our research provides a fundamental understanding of the relationship between the surface energy of cement phases (the phases in clinker) and their electronic structure using quantum mechanics-based simulations. Researchers use this knowledge to suggest strategies for modifying clinker materials to improve those materials and lower carbon dioxide emissions. The discoveries and validations made possible by CSHub models would have taken decades to achieve experimentally.

Research Briefs

Publications

The CSHub has long investigated multifunctional concrete, and has uncovered a way to store energy in a mixture of carbon black, cement, and water. The technology has potential applications towards bulk energy storage, on-road EV charging, self-heating pavements, energy-autarkic structures, and more.

News

Publications

Creep, the gradual structural deformation in concrete under a load, it is known to impact on the durability of concrete structures. CSHub researchers are working to better understand what causes creep starting at the nanoscale.

News

Research Briefs

Publications

According to an NRMCA analysis, 70% of concrete producers had to turn away business because their CDP workforce was insufficient to satisfy demand. A special project funded by the Concrete Advancement Foundation is investigating the causes of the worker shortage, and ways to improve recruitment and retention.

Read the Executive Summary here.

Interactive Tools and Dashboards

Click on an image to use the tool or dashboard.

Break-Even Mitigation Percent (BEMP) Dashboard 

How much should be invested up front to mitigate future building damage? The CSHub-developed Break-Even Mitigation Percent (BEMP) is a simple, practical metric that offers building designers and owners a way to make better risk-informed decisions. Use this tool to calculate the BEMP for eastern U.S. coastal communities prone to damage from hazards related to hurricanes.

City Texture Dashboard 

The value of mitigation derives from estimates of avoidable losses. For hurricanes, these estimates are directly influenced by the magnitude and extent of expected wind loads. These maps illustrate CSHub findings that capture how ‘city texture’—the density and configuration of local buildings—affect wind loads and the derive value of mitigation along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of the U.S. Explore the dashboard to see the implications of city texture for the resilience planning of regions, states, and, perhaps, your own community.

CSHub Whole Life Cycle Carbon Uptake Tool

Carbonation is a natural process of carbon uptake in concrete that has been estimated to offset up to 43% of calcination emissions that occur during cement production. But to integrate carbonation into carbon accounting practices, it’s essential to estimate it at a more granular level.

CSHub researcher Hessam AzariJafari has developed a state-of-the-art, material- and facility-specific calculator for carbon uptake in concrete that includes carbonation from the end-of-life stockpiling of recycled concrete aggregates (RCA). This tool can include the details of use-phase uptake and corresponding mix design components when estimating the end-of-life uptake. The calculator estimates carbon uptake through a variety of accessible inputs—including concrete mixture, location and exposure characteristics, and stockpiling conditions.

Greater Boston Road Quality Dashboard

In 2017, America’s roads received a D rating by the American Society of Civil Engineers. For cities and states to improve their grade, they must first be able to accurately measure the quality of their pavements. Unfortunately, this often proves expensive and challenging. To address this problem, CSHub researchers have created Carbin, an app that directs users to their destination while measuring pavement quality and its effect on fuel consumption. With every trip they take, Carbin users contribute to a growing public map of pavement and emissions data that can help to inform infrastructure repair and fight climate change. Carbin has already surveyed hundreds of thousands of lane miles around the globe in countries like Mexico, China, and the United States. This dashboard presents the results of a survey of Greater Boston.

CSHub/IGGA Fuel/Carbon Savings Calculator

Developed in partnership with the International Grooving & Grinding Association (IGGA), the Fuel/Carbon Savings Calculator assesses fuel efficiency related to pavement roughness and calculates the fuel and associated CO2 savings which can be achieved with concrete diamond grinding.

CSHub/IGGA Rigid Pavement Savings Calculator

In partnership with IGGA and ACPA, we have developed a free-use online calculator for DOTs and other government agencies to quantify the fuel economy benefit of more rigid pavements.