Every building material consumes resources and takes a toll on the environment, with even fully recycled products consuming energy. But the true measure of a product’s environmental impact is sustainability – satisfying our current needs without scarifying our ability to meet the needs of future generations.
You might already know that concrete offers exceptional stability, durability and design flexibility for the residential marketplace, however you may not realize how many important environmental advantages are offered through every stage of manufacturing and use, and because old concrete can be 100% recycled, the cycle can continue indefinitely. In fact, concrete is one of the single most environmentally friendly construction products available.
Here are just a few of the reasons:
The thermal mass of concrete buildings and homes saves energy year-round by reducing temperature swings. During the air-conditioning season, the building will require cooling mainly at night – an off-peak time when electric companies can produce power more efficiently and conserve fossil fuels. Many of today’s concrete wall systems, such as Amvic’s Insulating Concrete Forms (ICFs) combine the mass of concrete with foam insulation. The resulting exterior wall envelope utilizes thermal mass, reduced air infiltration and increased R-Value than can reduce heating and cooling costs by as much as 40 percent.
Radiant floor heating with concrete suspended and on-grade floors is gaining popularity providing ease of construction and comfort assisting in energy efficiency as well.
Concrete simplifies construction by minimizing the number of different building products involved – less sheathing and insulation, and fewer components than wood-framed construction. Concrete is manufactured on an “as needed” basis, eliminating the waste inherent in sheet goods and dimensional products for framing. Building with concrete puts less waste in our landfills. If replacement or demolition is required, old concrete can be ground up and reused as coarse aggregate, fill or pavement sub-base material.
For further details, please review the data sheets for LEED-NC and LEED for Homes illustrating how ICF products can contribute towards gaining LEED points.
Maziyar Bolour, P. Eng.