How green is concrete?

Cracked-Concrete

You are reading this, because you love concrete, I suppose. In fact, we are all here because of our shared infatuation for this amazing and versatile material. But is it really just a skin deep attraction?

In our times, we simply can not adore a building material that is not sustainable or green. Sustainability became the most important feature for any material that has to do something with design. So how does concrete stand the test of our times?

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Recycled glass particles in concrete.

Here is a short list of the reasons why our favourite material is just as modern and innovative nowadays as it was when it first appeared in the history of architecture.

Durability A lifespan of a concrete structure can be triple of other common building materials, and will bear the forces of nature more efficiently. No matter if it’s a hidden structure or a visible design element.

Efficiency – You can get the same structural stability with less material: no wonder why tall buildings and big halls are so often built with the use of concrete columns, slabs and walls.

Affordable resources – The basic raw material used for cement in concrete is limestone, the most abundant mineral on Earth. Also, some industrial byproducts like silica fume and fly ash can be used, not to mention the recycled glass and other materials that can be added as particles.

Relatively low environmental impact – Compared to steel, at least. An estimation showed, that producing a reinforced concrete beam requires much less energy than producing a steel I-beam with the same moment capacity. Of course it is hard to compare it to traditional building materials, but when you are looking at architecture in the big scale, those are mostly out of question anyways.

In a well-balanced relationship with water – In architecture, most of the time you want to avoid water getting inside the structure. In other cases like pavements, permeability is much needed. The good news is, with concrete you can have both, depending mostly on the manner of production and the additives. Pervious concrete can build a successful symbiosis with a natural environment.

And of course, besides these practical arguments, it looks and feels very nice. Let’s not forget about that.

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2 responses to “How green is concrete?

  1. Pingback: Concrete Weekly no.12 | CONCRETEDESIGNBLOG·

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