Green Benefits of Concrete
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Concrete is a great material for sustainable construction. Its thermal profile, durability, and ability for reuse–among many others–make it a great choice. In fact, if you are considering LEED certification, there are 19-28 points that can be gained by using concrete in your project.
Concrete’s mass makes it a natural acoustic barrier. It can improve the quiet of an environment 80% compared to wood or metal frame construction, which helps soften the noisy drawbacks of rising urban density.
Sustainability requires looking far ahead, and concrete buildings are great candidates for eventual re-use. Their durability encourages the frame to stay intact, while modernizing with new floor coverings, windows, plumbing, and wiring.
Hurricanes, earthquakes and flooding are no stranger to the Carolinas, and concrete is an top-notch material for planning ahead for these calamaties. It is also quite fire-resistant and offers great blast resistance for applications where security is important.
Concrete is in it for the long-haul. UV fading, insect infestation, seawater corrosion, chemical erosion, humidity and rain are of little worry to concrete structures.
It takes less energy to cool and heat concrete due to its thermal mass. Fluctuations in temperature are flattened and peak heating a cooling periods are delayed to more reasonable times of day.
Heat Island Effect
Highly reflective concrete lessens urban heat concentrations, reducing A/C use and smog–and also helping with LEED certification.
Indoor Air Quality
Concrete forms a natural shield against moisture and allergens from the outdoors at thicknesses above 3 inches. It holds only tiny amounts of VOCs compared to other building materials as well.
There are up to 28 points available for LEED certification that can be received by using concrete, out of a total possible of 69. LEED is the gold standard for sustainability certification and is managed by the US Green Building Council.
Highly reflective concrete can cut down dramatically on the number of lights that need to be installed, whether indoor or out. A concrete-paved parking lot can use 35% less light than asphalt.
Concrete is typically sourced from regional materials and thus requires less energy to transport.
Concrete can be reused in other places, such as shoreline protection or as a road base, or even used as aggregate for new concrete. Fly ash, slag cement and silica fume are industrial byproducts that can replace the binder in concrete and may otherwise go to a landfill.
Concrete bears a load while serving as an architectural feature, unlike building materials that need to add extra resources for the design features. One look at the Roman Pantheon shows that concrete has inspired for over 1800 years.