How sustainable is concrete?
The question of sustainability of concrete is one that has been asked a number of times among homeowners, builders and even the concrete companies. As a result, some research has been done to either approve it or disapprove as a sustainable building material. These researchers have come up with the conclusion that concrete is one of the most sustainable building materials in existence today. Following all stages of concrete and its impact to the environment from being a raw material to when it’s demolished. It’s therefore considered a natural choice for sustainability in the construction of homes. The following are the reasons why it’s a sustainable choice:
More often than not, when you think about concrete as a building material, you’ll think about how durable it’s in comparison to most other alternatives. Buildings constructed from this material are durable and never rust, burn or rot. The lifespan of structures built from concrete is often two to three times that of the other choices of materials used for building. So, durability is a huge score for concrete to be considered a sustainable building material.
2. Resource Efficiency
Concrete, as we all know, is made from cement and limestone is the predominant raw material in cement. Limestone is known to be the most readily abundant mineral in the world. Other alternatives from which concrete can be made include slag cement, silica fume and fly ash. And what do we know about these materials? They’re by-product wastes from steel mills and power plants among other facilities where manufacturing takes place. This means that running out of the necessary raw materials for manufacturing cement is not a real concern at all.
3. Storm-water retention ability
Most surfaces that are paved will prevent the perviousness of water which in turn can block infiltration of water into the soil naturally. This may lead to an imbalance in nature’s ecosystem. This imbalance will lead to soil erosion pollution, depletion of the water table and flash floods. However, there’s a type of concrete known as pervious concrete that allows water to readily pass through. If used for parking lots, driveways, sidewalk and such like pavements; they can replenish local supplies of water by retaining runoff of storm-water.
With most building materials, there exists the problem of heat islands. However, with concrete, this problem is significantly reduced. Unlike dark-coloured materials like asphalt, roofs and pavements made of light-coloured concrete help in reducing the demands of air conditioning during the summer. They do this by absorbing less heat and reflecting more radiation from the sun that the dark-coloured materials.
5. Thermal Mass
The thermal mass or the absorption and retention ability of heat a substance to heat make building materials highly efficient with energy. When the foundations, floors and walls of a home are built with concrete, they become more energy efficient. To homeowners, this means a small-capacity HVAC equipment and lower bills for cooling and heating.
6. Minimal Waste
To reduce the amount wasted, concrete can be made in quantities that are enough for a specific project. This reduces waste that may be associated with other materials. Another advantage is that once a structure is done with, the material can be reused by crushing and using it as road base, backfill or pavements of new buildings.
With the above reasons, it’s safe to conclude that concrete is sustainable in more ways than one as we’ve discussed. It’s the ultimate choice for a building material.