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South Pole: The first climate neutral concrete in Switzerland: Interview with Holcim’s Cathleen Hoffmann
This interview with product engineer Cathleen Hoffmann offers valuable insights into how this milestone was achieved
With South Pole's support, Holcim has launched the first climate-neutral concrete in Switzerland. This interview with product engineer Cathleen Hoffmann offers valuable insights into how this milestone was achieved.
Already during her civil engineering studies, Cathleen Hoffmann worked as a bricklayer and drywaller on various construction sites; after graduating, she worked for several years as a project engineer in the construction industry, where she was confronted day in, day out with the building material concrete and its composition, production and installation.
In 2001 she moved from Germany to Switzerland to work as a research assistant in the field of concrete technology. After 10 years in applied research, Cathleen Hoffmann started as a product engineer at Holcim (Switzerland), where she has been working for 10 years now.
What is the most exciting aspect of your role? How does your role enable you to drive and manage change?
I value the cooperation with our customers and partners, as well as the opportunity to drive progress in sustainable construction. Projects like EvopactZERO show that with our innovative ideas, knowledge, and years of experience, we can make a real contribution to sustainable construction in Switzerland.
What are your sustainability priorities for the coming years?
Holcim aims to produce climate-neutral and fully recyclable building materials by 2050. We plan to achieve this goal by reducing CO2 along the entire value chain, closing building material cycles, and using building materials more efficiently. We are pursuing a three-pronged approach: increase the proportion of alternative raw materials and fuels in clinker production, reduce the proportion of energy-intensive clinker in cement production and, at the same time, increase the proportion of recycled material in cement and concrete production. With the development of Susteno and the Evopact concrete made from it, we are taking important steps in this direction.
What was the decisive factor in developing a climate-neutral concrete?
With products such as Susteno or EvopactZERO, we are reacting to changing needs from our clients and in society, but we are also actively pushing the market in a new direction.
With EvopactZERO, we have taken an important step towards realising our vision - to produce climate-neutral and fully recyclable building materials by 2050. This goal is also close to me personally.
How has the climate-neutral concrete been received by your customers?
Initial reactions have been very positive and we are noticing an increased demand for sustainable building materials such as climate-neutral concrete
What books or articles do you read for professional inspiration? Who or what inspires you?
I enjoy reading the Swiss newspapers Tagesanzeiger and NZZ. And I currently have a lot of technical literature on the subject of building physics on my bedside table! For me, finding ways to reinvent concrete as a building material is incredibly interesting: how can we do this in a way that conserves resources, reduces CO2, yet maintains concrete's efficiency and durability? I believe this can be achieved by leveraging the physical principles of construction technology.
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