The Implementation Of Innovative And Sustainable Construction Materials

  • Ellen Grist

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Engineering (EngD)


This research uses a novel construction material (lime-pozzolan concrete) and real-world project (a school) as a vehicle for investigating the implementation or applied-innovation process in construction. The implementation of new technologies at a product-level is recognised to be an antecedent of technological change in the construction industry. A ‘real world’ construction project aiming to implement a novel lime-pozzolan concrete in the field, has been used as a process-tracing case study. Rigorous analysis of this case study project, expressly focusing on project-level communication, has shown the implementation of innovative and sustainable materials to be a complex, socio-technical process. With the aim of identifying opportunities to improve project-level design processes in order to support the uptake of innovation and sustainable solutions, twelve high-level theories have been built on twenty-five emergent themes. Collectively these insights demonstrate that implementation processes, once initiated, are experiential, social, contextual, active, interactive, temporal, intentional and mutually constituted phenomena. On the strength of empirical findings this thesis argues for a radical shift in managerial attention from the outcome of the process to the process itself; specifically focused on the experience of the design team as process participants. Laboratory testing and initial field trials have demonstrated the technical feasibility of producing structural grade lime-pozzolan concretes with 28-day compressive strengths of up to 50MPa. The lime-pozzolan concretes were ternary combinations of hydraulic lime (NHL5), ground granulated blastfurnace slag (GGBS) and silica fume (SF). The use of NHL5 in conjunction with pozzolanic materials has been shown to be a viable ‘low-carbon’ alternative to CEMI or CEMIII/A in certain circumstances, although this work has demonstrated that the potential savings in the embodied CO2 and energy of lime-pozzolan concretes are highly dependent on the boundaries of the analysis. Moreover the potential for lime-pozzolan concrete with a lower still CO2 and energy intensity than any concretes tested to date has been identified.
Date of Award25 Jun 2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SponsorsEngineering and Physical Sciences Research Council & Ramboll
SupervisorAndrew Heath (Supervisor) & Kevin Paine (Supervisor)


  • Lime-pozzolan concrete
  • innovation process

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