Eco-Concrete: A Green Building Material

Eco-Concrete: A Green Building Material

The most popular buzzword in construction today has also pervaded almost every other aspect of modern life: green. Whether it is applied to building, living, or eating, everyone is attempting to reshape their habits in an environmentally-friendly manner.

Contractors, who must always attempt to respond to new consumer demands in order to maintain a competitive presence, are struggling to change their building practices and integrate green design into their business. However, one of the most commonly used building materials is one of the greenest options available! 

Concrete fits many of the requirements for environmental responsibility. Here are some of the reasons why concrete can be an excellent choice for use in green design.

What is Concrete Green?

The main tenets of green and sustainable design are reduce, reuse and recycle. The goal is to reduce the negative impact, or “footprint,” that we as a species have on the earth. Concrete is an important option available to consumers looking to use green materials in their new homes, additions or updates. One of the most important factors is that cement, the main component of concrete, is made from the most common mineral found on earth: limestone. 

Limestone is crushed to create cement powder. Also, since limestone is so common around the world, it can generally be harvested and processed locally, which reduces the amount of resources needed to transport the cement from the plant to the construction site.  In addition, cement can be made or partially comprised from waste products from various production processes such as fly ash, silica or slag.

How Concrete Reduces the Carbon Footprint

Concrete acts as a natural insulator, or better said, helps to adjust to environmental conditions. Concrete retains heat, which can significantly help with homeowner’s heating and cooling needs. It can absorb warmth from the sun in the winter months and retain the heat inside, while keeping in the cool air in the summer.

In addition, concrete walls tend to be airtight, and thus, minimize drafts that traditional building materials allow into the building. This alone can reduce heating and cooling costs significantly.  Finally, natural concrete is lighter colored and reflects more light than many other surfaces. This is especially valuable in close building situations, such as cities, where dark surfaces can absorb heat and artificially increase the local temperature.

One of the most popular features of concrete is its durability, which is also one of the main factors in its being a green building material. Sustainable building and living emphasizes long-term solutions and products over cheap, short-term products that will be thrown away and add to the waste management issues that already exist. Concrete can last for many times longer than conventional building materials, such as wood or drywall. It is very resistant to common causes of deterioration in homes such as insect activity, rot, rust and even fire.

Overall, concrete can offer many homeowners the sustainable option they want, while giving them the cost effectiveness and structural strength they require. Contractors, meanwhile, may find that they are already employing more green business practices than they had ever imagined.

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