In terms of sustainable residential architectural design, the use of concrete is one of the biggest debates – is it or isn’t it a Green building material? There are strong arguments on each side, and it’s up to every homeowner to decide for themselves on the role of concrete in the building of their sustainable home. Here are some insights to help you make an informed decision.
- Concrete manufacturing: The way in which the majority of our concrete is manufactured is far from Earth-friendly. Worldwide, concrete production accounts for a massive 7% of global CO2 emissions. At the same time, the production of concrete uses up waste products that would otherwise be left to landfills, such as blast furnace slag and fly ash, and old concrete can be broken down and recycled for certain uses in construction.
- Building lifespan: Concrete is incredibly durable, unlike many other building materials. It won’t rot, burn or wear the way wood or metal would, so buildings made with concrete will last longer with minimal maintenance than any other building. This resource efficiency is a benefit for sustainable design, as there is no ongoing construction cost or manufacture of replacement materials. If your home is no longer required, it can be demolished, and the concrete recycled.
- Thermal mass: Concrete naturally has a high thermal mass, allowing it to absorb and retain heat. In homes where walls, floors or even ceilings are built in concrete, their natural temperature regulation is very effective, which has a significant impact on heating and cooling bills and allows homeowners to install smaller systems. This benefit can, over the long term, make a significant contribution to reducing the carbon footprint of the home.
- Complete customization: Concrete can be molded and cast into any shape, allowing homeowners to discretely install other Green technology and systems without compromising the design of the building. For example, water from rainwater collection or grey water systems can be held in custom-designed precast concrete columns, roofs can be designed to optimize solar energy collection without making panels invasive, and the building can be made to be completely sealed in line with leading passive home design standards.
Find Out More About Sustainable Residential Architecture Design in NJ
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