Concrete, a composite material comprising of aggregates, cement, and moisture has become an integral component of modern structural constructions.
Having lent its strength in building formidable structures, from resilient Roman Colosseum of the past, to the sky touching Burj Khalifa today, its durability and flexibility propagate its use as a popular building material of choice.
With a global market currently resting at $395 billion, it is estimated that the market in the US alone will see further growth. Its production method has however raised questions on its longstanding reputation as a viable choice for the environment.
The Irreplaceable Nature of Concrete
The biggest advantage of using concrete is the flexibility it allows architects and constructors to play with their imagination. It can be cast into any shape to create complex structures which guarantee high insulation properties, thermal mass, and resistance to temperatures of up to 910 degrees centigrade.
The manufacturing process generally does not create any by-products or wasteful materials, and even old concrete may be used as aggregates later, making it a recyclable material to some extent. Its long lasting nature, high durability, and strength provide home owners and builders with uninterrupted service for life. Concrete is a cheap and excellent alternative to existing building materials which are prone to natural erosions from wind, mildew and rot.
However, the process of converting limestone and clay to clinker material consumes intense energy, releasing excessive amounts of CO2 from combustion and other production processes into the air. This has resulted in a surge of criticism against concrete. With estimates of carbon emissions surmounting up to 400 pounds of CO2 for every cubic yard, the question arises whether concrete is here to stay.
Are Sustainable Elements the Solution
However, concrete is in the phase of evolution to become sustainable, as new technology emerges. Proposing to change the very nature of its core ingredients and production methods, it is in a transition phase to become a material with low carbon footprint.
New, award winning research on environmental friendly concrete production methods has proposed the idea of using recycled plastic to create reinforced concrete, which is said to reduce emissions by 50%. This research has helped Fibercon, a Queensland-based company to develop new forms of ‘green reinforced concrete’.
Sustainable concrete can be mass produced from recycled materials. It would not only create minimal waste, but possess superior qualities such as low inherent energy and high thermal mass. The extraction of CO2 post production and containment from release into the environment also provides hope for the future.
Paired with better building techniques, concrete can become less wasteful and energy consuming. One such technique in use today is the construction of concrete structures with steel-ply concrete forms.
Symons forming system is reusable, leading to minimal waste, and good for up to 3000 individual uses, making it serviceable for years. This reusability makes it a cost effective and environmentally viable option as opposed to other concrete forms. It can be utilized for any type of concrete pedestal, haunch, stoop, or culvert. Alternatively, concrete form rental is also an option.
Additionally, it can also be used to make ‘Y’ walls, whether straight, curved, or battered. The ease brought by the easy to assemble pre-built custom concrete form with laminated plywood drastically reduces labor and energy consumption.
Concrete provides the benefit of durable and long standing structures, which is enough to maintain its popularity despite its proposed ill effects to the environment.
However, the nature, chemical composition, and building processes are evolving, making it a superior and more environmentally viable choice as we move into the future. Hence, it would be safe to assume that with current developments in technology, building equipment, and forming processes, concrete is here to stay.
Forming America, specializing in Symons Steel-Ply forms and accessories, also offers concrete forming and shoring equipment. Offering expert consultations, blueprint take-offs, and on-site delivery, we provide superior service according to our clients’ individual needs, contact us today to know more!