Green Concrete: The Future of Sustainable Construction


One of the shortcomings of man’s mastery of construction is the pollution it has caused to both air and land. While concrete is seen as a better alternative for building when compared to wood, it too can lead to excessive CO2 emissions, leave mines depleted, and the earth scarred with huge craters. To this end, the construction industry has started turning towards using green concrete as an alternative to regular concrete. So, what is green concrete and how is it different from ordinary concrete?

Green Concrete Defined

Green concrete is all about recycling and innovation. Its most common definition is concrete that incorporates at least one form of recycled waste materials in its components. Waste materials that are often recycled and used to produce green concrete include used concrete, quarry and mining waste, slag, burnt clay, power plant waste, combustor ash, saw dust, foundry sand, and waste glass, among others. The term “green concrete” can be used broadly to refer to any concrete that is environmental friendly. Sometimes this may involve rehabilitating mines and quarries to put the wasteland to better use.

What are the Benefits of Green Concrete?

The main purpose of using green concrete is to conserve the environment. However, this form of concrete has financial and health benefits too. Here are some of the benefits of green concrete:

It is stronger and more long-lasting

Mixtures similar to green concrete have been discovered in walls of the impressive Roman-era buildings and structures that are still standing to this day. Unlike structures made from ordinary concrete, buildings made from green concrete have a lower rate of corrosion and higher resistance to heat. What’s more, green concrete does not shrink as quickly as ordinary concrete. As a result, buildings made from green concrete can last longer just like ancient Roman buildings. In the long run, it helps cut back on losses and maximize profit.

It Reduces CO2 Emission

Using ordinary concrete can also lead to the emission of high levels of CO2. Ordinary cement is produced by heating limestone, sand, and clay, a process that accounts for about 8% of all CO2 emissions in the world. Green concrete, on the other hand, has significantly lower levels of carbon dioxide and has been shown to produce up to 80% less gas. Since 1972, the construction industry in the U.S. has reduced the emission of CO2 by up to 30% from shifting to green concrete. As you may imagine, the benefits are much bigger on a global scale.

It Saves Energy

Normal cement is heated for long periods by vast resources of gas and coal before it can be suitable for use. This means that, apart from emitting CO2, concrete made from this cement also uses up a lot of energy, which leads to other forms of environmental pollution. Green concrete does not require as much effort to produce, which subsequently saves energy. What’s more, since green concrete is stronger and more stable than the ordinary one, it has a higher resistance to temperature changes. This means that indoor temperatures can be sustained easily without using too much energy on heaters and coolers as the seasons change.

It Puts Industrial Waste to Good Use

Waste from the construction industry is always increasing in volume. Unlike organic waste, construction waste is not easily degradable and has long-lasting negative effects on the environment. Consequently, this makes disposal a problem especially as more and more land is being grabbed for the construction of more buildings. Green concrete is considered to be an excellent solution to disposal problems, since the waste materials are incorporated back into buildings. This not only saves space that would have otherwise been used as a dumping site, but also prevents long-term land and air pollution.

How Will Green Concrete Change the Construction Industry?

In spite of the need for a stable natural environment, it seems impractical to halt all construction because of pollution. A more practical approach would be to use safer and greener construction materials, meaning green concrete. The construction industry is obligated to adopt greener construction methods, which will in turn go a long way towards global environmental conservation. Besides, green concrete has proven to be cheaper and easier to produce when compared to ordinary concrete.

Furthermore, it is stronger and lasts longer when compared to the latter, meaning there are lower damages and consequently less losses. Combined, these factors point toward a global adoption of green concrete as is the trend in the U.S. and other developed countries. Adopting green concrete over ordinary concrete will also affect factors such as health and safety. This is because green concrete does not corrode as easily as ordinary concrete, and since it is stronger it has a greater resistance to elements that may easily bring down buildings made with normal cement concrete.

Leading Companies in Green Concrete Technology

Perhaps the best thing about green concrete is that it is easy to produce. This has made it possible for small businesses and even handymen to produce. However, several large companies have also set their focus on this technology. Some of the leading companies in green concrete technology include Calera, CarbonCure, and Solidia Technologies.

Each of these companies has different approaches when it comes to producing green concrete. For instance, Calera has a pilot plant that uses waste products and carbon dioxide to produce up to two tons of green cement each day. CarbonCure, on the other hand, has developed a technology that allows contractors to inject carbon dioxide captured from the air into ordinary cement. Although many construction companies have acknowledged and embraced green concrete technology, there is still room for progress. Understandably, most companies are yet to abandon ordinary cement concrete.

Bottom Line

Green concrete is without a doubt the future of construction. Not only is it cheaper and stronger, but it is also eco-friendly. This technology is still in its development stage, but leading companies have already come up with innovative ways to produce green concrete. The technology is expected to spread globally, and soon the world will hopefully see a significant reduction in CO2 emissions.


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