Reducing the Environmental Impact of Concrete

Concrete is a magnificent building material. It harnesses the power to achieve extraordinary feats of construction. Unfortunately, much like many building materials concrete has a considerable effect on the environment. In this article, we discuss some of the new and innovative ways we are reducing the environmental impact of concrete as a society.

Using Recycled Concrete

To create concrete we use three essential elements: water, cement and aggregate… all in combination with a large amount of energy. The concrete creation process harnesses precious natural materials which can have a harmful effect on the environment, it also produces large amounts of Co2. So, what can we do to reduce, or even eliminate this environmental impact altogether? Well, one of the best things we can do is use recycled materials… and it’s an idea that seems to be catching on. Take the Swiss city of Zurich for example, where it is now a requirement for new public buildings to use recycled concrete.

The city is always looking for ways to become greener; in 2002, its first recycled concrete building was erected. The building (a small school) was created using 80% recycled concrete. A few years later, the requirement was made that all new public buildings be made using recycled concrete.

Other cities are now following in its lead and it’s having a knock-on effect on consumer demands for more sustainable building materials. Many manufacturers have caught onto this and are starting to offer more recycled materials and sustainable solutions. Watts Concrete for example, use recycled aggregates wherever possible and always endeavour to use local materials when this is not possible.
concrete bridge
Using Green Concrete

Green concrete refers to concrete which is made using less new materials and more environmentally friendly processes. Recycled concrete is technically a form of green concrete, however it should not be confused with green concrete. While green concrete does use more eco friendly materials in its composition, these materials are not always recycled. Often, eco friendly materials are used in place of recycled cement. the materials chosen are typically any suitable material with equally cementitious properties such as fly ash, fibreglass and foundry sand.