7 Tips on How to Make Concrete Construction More Eco-friendly

published Oct 03, 2023
1 min read

The construction industry has long faced scrutiny for its environmental impact. However, change is in the air. By employing sustainable practices, specifically within concrete construction, the industry can pave the way for a more eco-friendly future.

If you’re seeking sustainable solutions for your next concrete project, here’s a guide brimming with actionable tips.

1. Use Supplementary Cementitious Materials (SCMs)

One of the foremost methods to ensure sustainability is to employ Supplementary Cementitious Materials, commonly known as SCMs. Examples include fly ash, derived from coal combustion, and slag cement, a byproduct of steel production.

These materials can partially replace traditional cement in concrete mixes. SCMs are not just about reducing cement usage: they can enhance the overall durability and strength of the concrete, while also playing a pivotal role in slashing CO2 emissions.

2. Adopt Recycled Aggregates

A sustainable alternative to virgin aggregates is recycled aggregates. These are primarily sourced from crushed, reclaimed concrete. By switching to recycled aggregates, we achieve a two-fold benefit: a significant reduction in construction waste that might otherwise head to landfills, and a decrease in the extraction of natural resources.

This switch not only preserves our natural landscapes but also reduces energy consumption tied to the extraction process.

3. Enhance Thermal Efficiency

When it comes to improving the thermal performance of buildings, Insulated Concrete Forms (or ICFs) stand out. Constructed with a core of concrete sandwiched between two insulating materials, these forms drastically cut down energy used for heating or cooling buildings.

The outcome? Not only is there a substantial reduction in energy bills for the end-users, but also a lower carbon footprint for the structure as a whole.

4. Reduce Water Consumption

Water is a precious resource. Recognising this, it’s crucial to adjust concrete mix designs to be effective with less water. Furthermore, innovative measures, such as collecting rainwater or using treated wastewater in concrete production, can make a huge difference. Such methods diminish the reliance on freshwater, conserving it for other essential purposes.

5. Consider Concrete’s Lifecycle

Concrete, due to its robust nature, boasts a long lifespan. This inherent longevity translates to fewer replacements and repairs over the years. By choosing concrete for its lifespan and not just its immediate benefits, builders can ensure that the overall energy and resources spent over time are dramatically reduced, thereby bolstering sustainability.

6. Embrace Prefabrication

Prefabricated concrete elements, such as precast concrete, are produced off-site and then transported for assembly. This approach offers multiple benefits: it standardises the quality of construction elements, ensures a significant reduction in material wastage, and curtails on-site energy consumption and emissions.

The controlled environment of off-site production also means there’s a greater assurance of quality and consistency.

7. AI-Based Smart Sensors for Concreting

The age of technology brings smart solutions. AI-powered sensors, embedded in concrete, monitor moisture, temperature, and strength. This real-time data ensures optimal curing conditions, minimising resource wastage and enhancing durability.

Harnessing the Power of AI in Concreting

Delving deeper into AI-based smart sensors, they’re truly revolutionising the realm of concrete construction. By continuously monitoring the internal conditions of freshly poured concrete, they provide invaluable insights. If conditions deviate from the optimal range, stakeholders can intervene immediately.

Not only does this guarantee the integrity of the structure, but it also ensures that resources, like water and energy, are used judiciously. By catching potential issues early, smart sensors can reduce the need for future repairs, further conserving resources and promoting sustainability.

A few concluding thoughts

The journey towards sustainable concrete construction doesn’t necessitate a complete overhaul of current practices. Instead, by adopting a few thoughtful strategies and innovative solutions, like AI-based sensors, the industry can move towards a more eco-friendly model.

As builders, engineers, and architects embrace these methods, concrete construction will not only stand the test of time but will also do so with a reduced environmental footprint.