Sustainability has become an important focus to business owners and consumers alike. However, moving away from wasteful practices and towards more energy-efficient construction methods is typically an afterthought. Nobody wants to sacrifice quality for sustainability, and incurring increased costs in order to produce materials with a lower carbon footprint is a business risk in itself.
For this reason, it’s important that the sustainable option is as good or better as the conventional method and either costs less or repay itself in the midterm. With concrete production, there are numerous advances in this regard.
Conventional concrete uses substantial amounts of raw materials: rock, cement, and sand being three major contributors to its processing that each need to be mined or otherwise produced and transported. By replacing any of these standard ingredients with a more sustainable or recycled material, concrete production can become much less wasteful and have its impact on the environment reduced.
In fact, recycled or green concrete can both exhibit material qualities that make it beneficial over conventional concrete. So, what is green concrete?
Although there is some overlap, there’s a slight difference between green concrete and recycled concrete: Green concrete aims to replace some of its components with more sustainable alternatives. These can be discarded products from other industries or just more sustainable raw materials. Recycled concrete typically replaces some of its components with recycled concrete waste.
In this article, we are looking at the ability of green concrete to reduce emissions in the manufacturing process and its benefits over conventionally produced concrete.
Conventional concrete uses a tailored mix of cement, water, sand, and gravel. Typically the dry materials are natural resources and are used at significant cost to the environment. The production of concrete is responsible for around l 4-8% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions; vast quantities of pollution are released into the air.
Green concrete makes use of sustainable materials for its aggregate or sand components. These can be any number of waste products from manufacturing or recycled plastics. Companies like Arqlite, for example, make use of all-recycled materials in the production of their smart gravel for pre-cast concrete.
The differences aren’t just in the manufacturing process – green concrete performs as well or better than conventional concrete in a number of different ways. It can be easier to handle, better at insulating, and obviously greener than its predecessor.
Green concrete is made using components that are less harmful to the environment, and it uses fewer natural resources. When you start learning about sustainable concrete and materials, you may not realize that there are different types to choose from. There are even companies worldwide that specialize in the creation of green concrete. For construction projects, here are some concrete material options to choose from.
This type of concrete is made of fly ash. Now, fly ash is not little bugs, but it is the particulates or powder that come from coal combustion that is usually discarded but can now be used for concrete.
This is another byproduct that can be recycled, just like fly ash. When a foundry melts ore, some leftovers can be ground up into a fine powder. That powder is then used to help make green concrete. This material can replace up to 80% of cement and may even be more durable.
In silica production, an ultrafine powder is a byproduct of the ferrosilicon alloy and its silicon dioxide condensate. It can be used to create a stronger version of concrete that is less permeable and has increased compressive strength.
Aggregate is the sand or crushed rock in the concrete mixture. Instead of using these natural resources, a company may use recycled plastic, old concrete debris, or even post-consumer glass. The benefits of using recycled plastic are that you are both recycling and removing plastic waste and saving on concrete’s emissions.
Many alternative resources can be used to make green concrete. Companies like Arqlite make smart gravel from plastic found in oceans, landfills, rivers, and lakes to tackle plastic pollution and create a better option for their aggregate for construction businesses.
There are multiple contributing factors to climate change, but one of the most destructive is the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The production of regular concrete releases tons more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Switching to green concrete reduces these emissions and, if recycled materials are used, locks up waste from other industries too.
More Benefits of Green Concrete
There are plenty of advantages to finding sustainable resources for our cities to use during construction projects. Take a look at these examples:
When replacing standard Portland cement with fly ash, concrete demonstrates improved properties in both its wet and dry states. This concrete may be significantly stronger in compression than typical high-strength concrete.
Reducing waste is a major step in reaching a sustainable manufacturing process. Recycling waste products such as plastic to make aggregate for concrete help to protect the environment from plastic pollution directly. And moving away from the production and transport of heavy gravels and sand reduces the demand on the environment and the associated emissions.
A huge amount of coal is needed to heat cement to the right temperature to make regular concrete. This may seem like no big deal, but a lot of energy is wasted this way. When a company opts to use more fly ash, it can limit the amount of energy required in the process.
If you still need a selling point for sustainable concrete, you should know that it’s also better for contractors to use. Why? Smart Gravel is easy to use, transport and store. It needs no hydration. It’s clean. And because it’s green, it scores LEED and SITES points.
Sustainability has not always been the number one focus in the construction world, but as more people and businesses become concerned about our planet, we will soon see this movement pick up faster.
Climate change is the most pressing issue of our times, and it is the responsibility of every industry to reduce its contribution. However, construction materials necessarily must not deviate from their standard of durability and safety.
Switching to more eco-friendly alternatives doesn’t have to run the risk of lessening quality – in fact, it can have the opposite effect. Green concrete is a relatively new concept and makes use of the unique properties of recycled materials to reduce manufacturing costs, tackle pollution, and reduce emissions without sacrificing quality.
The result is a sustainable product that performs as well or better than conventional ones. Smart gravel from Arqlite is the first step in creating green concrete for green construction projects.