When it comes to making the building trade more environmentally friendly, Mehrdad Mahoutian is hoping to kill two birds with one concrete block.

Concrete production is a big emitter of greenhouse gases. The main culprit is Portland cement — a key ingredient of construction concrete that holds together the mix of sand, gravel and crushed stone. For each tonne of Portland cement produced, roughly a tonne of CO2 is spewed into the atmosphere, trapping heat and contributing to climate change. Concrete is the basis for many buildings, from skyscrapers to bridges, and about 4.6 billion tonnes of cement are produced annually. Concrete production is responsible for about 5% of annual man-made carbon emissions worldwide, according to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

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