MIMO: makes concrete more sustainable and also saves money

At the beginning of June, TNO launched the MIMO concept for an integrated approach to the transition to sustainable concrete. It is a smart tool with data, calculation models and optimization software. All parties in the concrete industry chain benefit: from designer, supplier and demolition contractor to contractor and client. How will the construction world interpret this together?

“If we want to achieve the 2050 climate goals,” begins Marcel Vullings from TNO, “the concrete sector must also become more sustainable. This requires a transition from primary raw materials, such as sand and gravel, to secondary material flows, for example from construction and construction waste. But also think about reusing whole elements.”

Until now, the transition to secondary materials has been limited by the great variation in waste streams, both in size and composition. With the material-driven Multi-criteria Design Optimization (MIMO), TNO approaches the problem from the other side. The starting point is not the need, but the available raw materials. Fillings: “Thank you resource-based technology each party can weigh what the best scenario is.”

Below you can read which parties are involved in the concrete chain and how they can create MIMO together.


The structural engineer creates building structures and tests them against the standards for strength, stiffness, stability and fire resistance, for example. The executive engineer examines the building elements and refines them to production level.

Both manufacturers face their own challenges. I want to reuse concrete beams or floor slabs, how do I optimally adapt my design to their strength and dimensions? And does it make sense to move the concrete elements a hundred kilometers away, or is it better to use concrete granules from the neighborhood? Can I use geopolymers for this building? All in all, a big puzzle where MIMO comes in handy.

MIMO shows the strategies with which you can use sustainable concrete, including the possibility to combine, compare and optimize innovative solutions. As a structural engineer, you get into the prerequisites for the future construction, after which the tool clearly shows the possibilities for a well-considered decision.


The precast concrete supplier provides elements such as beams, floor slabs and stairs that are manufactured in the factory and installed on the construction site. Other suppliers deliver concrete mortar in trucks to the construction site for further processing.

As a supplier, you supply the elements that the contractor or contractors demand, and you follow requests for, for example, the strength of the concrete. But more and more suppliers also want to advise their customers and purchase the materials as sustainably as possible. This leads to questions such as: how much concrete aggregate do I have available and what floor design and strength is appropriate? Or vice versa: What strength do I have to guarantee and what raw materials do I need? But also: what is the production time and what about the appearance of the elements? MIMO helps optimize choices.


The demolition company dismantles buildings with pegs, saws, screwdrivers and so on. All parts and materials are separated, sorted, removed and treated or not.

Once again, MIMO proves its worth. As a demolition worker, you can smash or crush a concrete building in various ways. But it may be worth removing elements with special equipment first or grinding more specifically for better quality. MIMO shows how you can disassemble the building in the most sustainable or profitable way.

MIMO: makes concrete more sustainable and also saves money

Concrete elements from De Nederlandsche Bank wait nduring the demolition in a warehouse in Zaandam (New Horizon) at a new destination.

In order to gain insight into the quality, you as a demolition contractor must register and manage the data so that you can also sell the item again. What demolition techniques have you used, for example, what properties does the granulate have? The more information MIMO can use, the better the optimization and the more sustainable the application.


The contractor is the one who will build the new project. He arranges the planning, procures workers and buys the products from the suppliers.

Once the customer’s requirements are known, the contractor, together with the designing engineer, will find the most suitable solution. It is particularly important for the contractor which risks he runs. The builder can say: I want 80% granules in the concrete, so I work circularly, but where do you get all the granules from, what is the quality and how much does it cost? Do I also meet the requirements if I have to reuse whole beams?

Thanks to MIMO, you as a contractor have a better grip on the project. The tool maps and quantifies uncertainties, so that you can confidently say ‘yes’ to a task, budget predictably and be more certain in advance of both the environmental impact and the constructive safety.


The developer is the one who has the budget and says which building or which bridge he wants to build. Think of an investor, a housing association or the Rijkswaterstaat. He also determines the requirements, such as environmental friendliness or requirements for as little maintenance as possible.

Like the other parties in the concrete industry chain, the builder has the convenience of MIMO. He knows that his demands will be met without having to request a specific solution in advance. If, thanks to the client, the uncertainties are better known, the building can be realized cheaper and on time by using sustainable concrete solutions in the most optimal way. As a developer, it therefore pays to use MIMO as a tool to make well-considered decisions with the contractor in terms of safety, environment and costs.

To know more

Anyone active in the concrete industry, who likes to be at the forefront of sustainability and innovation, and who would like to know what MIMO can mean for his or her company, can contact Marcel Vullings.

Much more information about MIMO can be found in the white paper Clearing the way for sustainable concrete.

Source: TNO
Photo above: Pixabay
Photo below: Sustainably built

Leave a Comment