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Sustainability and Concrete Construction

Sustainability is a major concern when it comes to construction. Concrete which is a commonly used construction material has a big impact on the environment. This starts from the extraction of raw materials for concrete. There is a rise in population and the demand for housing has increased exponentially.     And this has increased the demand for concrete that is widely used for construction around the world.

For the manufacturing of concrete the essential elements that are required are cement, water and aggregate. When you select a construction company, you need to ask them about the environmental impact of the materials they use and the processes they follow when constructing the building. The process of manufacturing cement emits a large amount of carbon dioxide. Cement is manufactured in a rotary kiln that reaches very high temperatures. There are a lot of fossil fuels that are used to generate energy for the manufacturing processes as well. Aggregates and sand also contribute to carbon dioxide emissions when it comes to concrete production. Emission of greenhouse gases is at the highest when it comes to the production of concrete and this lowers when it comes to concrete construction. But you need to consider the fuel that is used to transport concrete from the manufacturing plants to the construction sites. Also, energy is required for vibrating the concrete mixture and pumping it. Many construction sites use electric mixing. And during curing of concrete, there is a lot of contaminated water that should be discharged safely after extracting all the impurities of it.

There is a certain deterioration when it comes to concrete buildings that will be exacerbated with insufficient maintenance. You need to make sure that there are sufficient funds to maintain the building and carry out repairs. However, there are methods that are utilised to increase the sustainability of concrete. There is the use of blended cement that is actually a by product and it replaces the role of clinker. This will reduce the emissions of the process. It can also reduce the energy used in the generation of cement. You need to look at improving energy efficiency and this will bring down the cost of producing concrete. This will include updating existing equipment to ensure that they are more energy efficient. You need to phase out old equipment and update machinery used for the process.

Carbon dioxide removal can be used to reduce emissions. The produced carbon dioxide can be dried and compressed in the first stage. It can then be transferred and stored or disposed of in a safe manner. Manufacturing plants can look at using low carbon fuel instead of high carbon fuel so that it can reduce the carbon dioxide content as well. The use of alternate fuel such as waste timber, refinery gases and mineral oil can be considered. Then the sustainability of existing concrete structure should be looked at as well. The operational life of concrete should be improved through regular maintenance and repairs. This will reduce the demolition waste of the existing buildings. For demolished concrete, the masonry and rubble generated can be used as aggregate for other building projects. This will prevent the depletion of raw materials.

the authorMacCowan