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Green Concrete - An Investment in the Environment

Today, more than ever before, the health of our environment plays a major role in our lives. Public awareness of everyone from consumers to professionals has elevated the importance of managing our energy and environmental resources. Labels such as "environmentally friendly", "made from recycled materials" and "green" are key phrases in marketing campaigns.

One building material that has stood the test of time in quality and has always been "green" is concrete. The composition of concrete has changed very little since the Romans invented it as a major building material. A simple mixture of the most readily available ingredients, concrete has always been known and used for its strength, durability and design flexibility. But today, concrete is also being used more frequently and in different applications because of it environmental impact and its assistance in developing "cool communities".


It is hard to go anywhere nowadays and not be reminded that we must think of our environment for ourselves and our future generations. Landfills must stop growing at an alarming rate, hazardous materials must be limited and handled without additional harm to our eco-system.

This is one reason applications of concrete have been sought and implemented much more frequently in recent years. Concrete's basic components are made up of some of the most common natural resources available such as sand, stone, water, and cement (which is composed of 75% limestone - the most common mineral on earth). Even the process of manufacturing cement assist the environment by using rubber tires and hazardous waste for the burning process. Many materials that would otherwise end up in landfills are used in making concrete.

An additive of almost all concrete is flyash which is a byproduct of coal-burning electrical plants. Slag, a byproduct of steel-making, can be used as aggregate. Recycled polystyrene is used to create lightweight concrete. And concrete itself is completely recyclable and can have an initial life cycle of twenty plus years with minimal maintenance requirements.

All these natural resources and otherwise hazardous or landfill bound materials are used in the process to create a material that is used to build our super highways, streets, homes, office complexes, driveways and walkways which in turn create "Cool Communities".


"Cool Communities" is a newer term used to describe the efforts to reduce the temperature, atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, air and water pollution in city populations. City planners and architects are learning what Mediterranean and Native American builders have known for thousands of years: Major scale residential and commercial developments can be built to reduce the heat and moderate the "heat island" urban effect which increases the temperatures of American cities and surrounding communities.

Watch any weather report an follow the temperatures as they decrease the further you move away from the urban areas. Urban heat islands are not inevitable, but are the product of dark roofs, black pavement and the loss of vegetation.

The Cool Communities Partnership, a program of the US Department of Energy, with the assistance of other federal agencies, American Forests, and private industries is leading studies in developing trends to avoid future harm from heat islands. A project goal is to develop practical use of reflective surfaces and vegetation in cities. Consistent use of cement-based building materials for structures and pavements along with strategic landscaping are prime elements in the development of the Cool Communities concept. Concrete assist in these efforts by reflecting the suns heat and energy in urban areas instead of absorbing and containing it like darker building and paving materials. The thermal mass of concrete also reduces the consumption of energy. During hotter months, concrete structures remain cooler inside and only require cooling over night while during the winter months the concrete contains the heat inside requiring less energy to be needed.

As we move forward into the twenty-first century, concrete and cement-based building products will continue to grow in value in helping to save our surroundings through its environmentally friendly components, energy saving impact and extended life cycle. Please contact us with any comments or requests for additional information.