Concrete is a big part of construction. The problem is that it’s not the best for the environment. Of course, that also means that sustainable building experts are always looking for alternatives that perform much like concrete without all the complications it presents. Here are a few options you can consider for your contracting business.
Although no concrete is going to be truly sustainable, there are ways to decrease its carbon footprint. One of the major problems about concrete is that it is heavy and strong but does not necessarily last. That means concrete ends up in a landfill several years after its original application, in a lot of cases. Green concrete seeks to reclaim certain aspects of the manufacturing process. For example, green concrete manufacturers might use recycled materials in the production of new concrete. Sometimes, they can even use old concrete to create new concrete. This decreases the amount of raw materials needed for production and minimizes waste in the landfill.
Fiber cement is becoming a popular building material for its durability and low maintenance needs. Fiber cement uses a combination of natural fibers, minerals, water and heat to create a surface that is less likely to break down over time. The manufacturing process creates fewer carbon emissions, making it a more attractive option for siding and more. Due to its construction, it is less likely to crack or wear out. As such, it can remain on the building for a longer period of time without replacement or extensive repairs.
Steel is a strong, durable building material that can be a way to minimize use of concrete in construction. You probably already use steel, but you may not necessarily know all of its benefits. Steel is less likely to corrode or break down over time, which gives it a longer possible lifespan. It is less prone to fluctuations in the pricing market compared to lumber, so it’s easier to estimate how much you can expect to pay for it from one year to the next. It is also one of the most recyclable building materials. That means you can use steel that has been mostly recycled, and expect that when the building is no longer needed, that steel can be recycled once again.
Wood is an age-old building material, because it is widely available almost anywhere. The chief benefit of wood, in comparison to concrete, is that it is a renewable building material. If trees are planted at a reasonable rate to replace the ones that are harvested for building, there will always be enough wood. In addition, treated wood is often durable enough for use in multiple projects. There is a healthy market for reclaimed wood from old buildings that have been demolished. The trick for construction businesses is to ensure that the wood you buy for your projects is sustainable.
Bamboo is emerging as an effective alternative for both concrete and wood. The problem with concrete is that it generates significant carbon emissions in manufacture, transport and disposal. The problem with wood is that it can take years or even decades to replace the species commonly used in building. By comparison, bamboo only takes 3 to 5 years to regenerate. Companies are still coming up with the best ways to use bamboo. However, the latest innovations are increasing its strength and durability, making it an effective building material at least for small structures.
Figuring out how to use less concrete is a sustainable act for your contracting business. To find out more about what you’ll need to run a successful contracting business, contact CSLS today!