What is the environmental impact of concrete?
One of the most important things to consider when undertaking any new construction or development project is the materials used. Striking the right balance between the cost, longevity, functionality and environmental impact of the materials can be tricky, but it is essential to ensure you maintain an acceptable carbon footprint, without breaking the bank.
Concrete as a building material has had a lot of bad press. Many people believe it is far from eco-friendly because it uses natural resources such as sand and stone. The other major concern is that the active ingredient, cement, is made using fossil fuels that drain our ever dwindling natural resources and the production process releases a lot of carbon dioxide into our atmosphere.
But in reality, the raw materials, such as sand and stone, used to make concrete, are some of the most common, naturally occurring resources. Mining and extracting these minerals also uses less land than the production of timber, and means less valuable forest land is destroyed.
Many of the aggregate materials in concrete are also recycled – sand, crushed stone and gravel are ideal for reuse as the integrity and strength of the materials never deteriorates, so it can be reclaimed from demolitions and reused in the production of new concrete.
Not only that, but the end result is a building that is much more energy efficient. Concrete buildings retain more heat, so cost less to keep warm, use less energy and produce fewer harmful emissions – lowering the carbon footprint of the building.
As concrete is practically an inert material, it doesn’t leak harmful chemicals as it ages and it doesn’t deteriorate over time – so offers exceptional longevity and durability. There are very few things that can impact on the long term performance of concrete, unlike timber, that can decay rapidly in certain conditions. This means that concrete does not enter into the same cycle of waste that many building materials do – so concrete features, whether it’s a kitchen floor or worktop, staircase or entire building, will need to be replaced much less often – if at all!
It is a naturally waterproof and fire resistant and can be left with no coatings or sealants and still offer years and years of functionality. But that doesn’t mean your concrete building has to be bare and boring. Concrete can be used to create any shape or form, from sweeping curves to rigid angles, giant structures or decorative features.
It can also be painted, polished or left rough for differing effects to suit the style of your build. As a result, more and More architects are recognising the value of concrete as a building material, not just for it’s functionality and eco-friendly but for its aesthetic appeal.
To find out more about how you could use concrete in your project to create a more contemporary, eco-friendly and long lasting build – simply get in touch with the experts at EKA Concrete. We have years of experience assisting with a huge variety of commercial and domestic projects and would be happy to offer you professional advice to ensure your get the most from your materials.