Originally published in French, in PME magazine

Karen Scrivener is a world leader in her field. Director of the Laboratory of the EPFL’s Construction Materials Laboratory, she invented the celebrated LC3 cement in 2008. LC3 cement, which reduces CO emissions by 40% compared to conventional cement. How does it work? By replacing clinker with low-temperature calcined clays. Its new mission: the creation of a Center for Worldwide Sustainable Construction (CWSC) in Fribourg, on the decentralized campus of the EPFL, in collaboration with the canton of Fribourg, the HES-SO and the university.

Karen Scrivener is not starting from scratch, since the Smart Living Lab and its four professors are already located there. Half a dozen additional professorships will be created, and links with the school’s laboratories in Lausanne. The idea behind the center is to break down the silos in which the construction sector is still confined, to encourage collaboration between architects, engineers, etc. to understand the value chain as a whole, with a view to the entire value chain and to sustainability.

Research areas: materials, of course. The design and transformation of existing infrastructures. Construction and deconstruction processes. The management of buildings. Measuring and anticipating the impacts of this sector, which, let’s not forget, is responsible for 40% of CO emissions. Objectives: boosting technology transfers with the giants of the sector. Stimulating the creation of start-ups. With an international focus and with a focus on partnerships with India, Pakistan, Cuba, Kenya, etc. “These are the regions where the need for cement will be felt the most in the decades to come.” In addition, the new center will develop a strong continuing education activity and launch an advanced master’s degree in the next year or two.