It is virtually impossible to hold a discussion at a trade or technical organization meeting without the topic of sustain-ability being raised. Skeptics might describe the intense interest in this subject as one more attempt to burden society, particularly the construction industry, with little or no discernable benefit. Conversely, there are fringe groups with radical political agendas that attempt to use sustainability discussions for their own purposes. There is, however, an important central issue”the need to analyze the long-term impact of how things are designed and constructed to minimize environmental change and maximize resources as the world™s population grows. Building œgreen (constructing buildings that make efficient use of energy, water, and materials; limit impact on the outdoor environment; and provide a healthier indoor environment) is being supported by both public and private entities in recognition of the finite resources available to support a growing population and higher levels of economic activity. This is where mainstream thinking is focused and where reasonable thought resides.
To begin to understand a bit more about sustainability, it is important to answer a few basic questions.
Question: What makes concrete a œgreen building material? Answer: Concrete is a responsible choice for sustainable development. Purely as a material characteristic, durability is a significant sustainable attribute of concrete because it will not rust, rot, or burn, requiring less energy and fewer resources over time to repair or replace it. Structures built with insulated concrete have optimal energy performance. Additionally, concrete is easy to use, incurs little waste, and can be readily recycled.
Question: What is energy efficient about concrete?Answer: Concrete on its own is not a very good insulator. Recent developments in building systems, however, have combined concrete with insulation, creating highly efficient, strong, and easy-to-build assemblies. Homes and buildings constructed with insulated concrete walls use the comparative great weight of concrete to moderate daily temperature swings, as did the pueblo dwellers of centuries past. This means home or building owners can lower heating and cooling bills up to 25%. Also, heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning can be designed with smaller-capacity equipment. Along with thermal mass, high-performance insulated concrete wall systems offer high R-value and low air infiltration to provide superior thermal efficiency.
Question: How does concrete relate to recycling?
Answer: Recycling is part of concrete™s life cycle from the beginning. Several common industrial byproducts like fly ash and slag that would otherwise add to landfills are incorporated into concrete mixes. Use of these byproducts also reduces