Green Living with Concrete: Exploring Sustainable Choices for Modern Spaces
While a widely trusted construction material for durable and beautiful spaces, concrete is far from being eco-friendly. The unsustainable attribute of concrete stems from its cement component. This is due to the cement’s energy-intensive manufacturing process.
The process also emits a huge amount of CO2 gas from – one, burning coal used for heat energy, and two, heating the raw materials (clay, sand, and limestone) in a kiln. As concrete usage continues to rise around the world, we can only heed the call for saving the environment by finding techniques to use concrete in more environmentally friendly ways.
Ways to use concrete in an eco-friendly way for sustainable living spaces
We can’t deny the role concrete plays in delivering durable living spaces – which plays a significant role in sustainable architecture and design. That is why finding ways to improve concrete projects to increase sustainability is vital. Here are different ways to make concrete greener:
Build to last
You can trust concrete for constructions that can last a lifetime. However, if sustainability is not factored in during construction, the chances of demolition after only a short time are high. One way of greening concrete projects is to have sustainability in mind from the word go. This eliminates the need for frequent demolitions, reducing the need to manufacture new materials.
One of the ways you can design for sustainability is by incorporating energy efficiency in the design. For instance, you can use concrete cladding to improve insulation around the construction. Another way is to design buildings that can easily adapt to other uses. This reduces the need to put up new constructions. In addition, durability can be enhanced by adding protective concrete coatings. However, make sure to install high-quality concrete coating professionally.
Reduce cement content
As said earlier, cement is the major cause of unsustainability in concrete. Reducing the percentage of cement in the concrete mix is sure to reduce the carbon footprint significantly. Reducing cement content in concrete can be done by using supplementary cementitious materials such as silica fume, slag cement, or fly ash. The use of fly ash is especially an environmentally friendly option in itself. This is because it is a byproduct of combusted coal. Using it in the mix saves it from ending up as waste.
Use recycled concrete
Recycling translates to putting waste that could have otherwise ended up in landfills to usefulness. A notable amount of waste is generated when a concrete construction is demolished. Thankfully, with growth in innovation, large concrete pieces from such demolitions can be crushed to make coarse aggregates. The aggregates generated can then be used to make new concrete mixes in new constructions. In addition, precast elements such as slabs can be saved and repurposed in new projects. Besides preventing this waste from ending up in landfills, using recycled cement reduces the impact associated with manufacturing new raw materials.
Source materials sustainably
Adopting sustainable practices in sourcing concrete materials goes a long way in greening concrete. For instance, reducing the impact of the carbon footprint associated with transporting concrete can seem insignificant, but it can reduce the impact of fossil gasses on the environment in a huge way. When deciding to buy concrete raw materials, consider looking at local suppliers. Alternatively, choose transport methods that emit less amount of gas such as ship or rail. In addition, you can further reduce the impact by limiting the number of trips taken to bring materials to the site. Buy materials in bulk or from a single supplier to achieve this.
Use precast concrete elements
Precast concrete can be a viable solution for using concrete sustainably for several reasons. One, it is prepared in a controlled environment using precise materials. This reduces the amount of waste generated if you were to prepare it on the site. Two, the preparation of precast concrete is highly optimized with controlled conditions, resulting in high-quality and durable precast elements. This ensures the durability of your project, which generates the sustainability benefits discussed above. Moreover, precast concrete elements offer you versatility in regards to size, color, and more for a stylish and modern finish.
Enhance the production process
Greening concrete can be done down at the production of raw materials by optimizing the production process. For instance, cement production plants can adopt the use of alternative fuels that have less impact on the environment. In addition, manufacturers can ensure that plants operate efficiently to reduce energy used. This can be done by investing in newer technologies and equipment as well as regular maintenance of the equipment.
The use of concrete in constructing beautiful homes isn’t going down any time soon. This calls for a need to think of ways to make concrete projects sustainable. This can be made easier by taking conscious steps such as building with longevity in mind. Other practices include using recycled concrete, reducing cement content in concrete, optimizing the production process, and using precast concrete in projects. Moreover, minding where and how to buy also plays a vital role.