Achieving Sustainable Goals with Architectural Concrete

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Title: Achieving Sustainable Goals with Architectural Concrete

Author(s): L. Rowland

Publication: Special Publication

Volume: 269

Issue:

Appears on pages(s): 57-64

Keywords: architectural; decorative; emissions; energy; life-cycle; sustainability.

Date: 3/1/2010

Abstract:
Concrete is the most widely used building material in the world. Fortunately, concrete, especially architectural and decorative concrete, is a very sustainable material. The constituent materials that make up concrete are readily available throughout most of the world and can be collected, processed, and manufactured in an environmentally sound manner. Concrete has low embodied energy and great thermal mass that can enhance buildings’ energy efficiency. All human activities have some greenhouse gas associated with them. The electrical power generation and transportation sectors of our economy generate over 60% of the greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. The greenhouse gas emissions associated with concrete and cement’s manufacture is only approximately 1% of the U.S. total. Durability and superior life cycle are solid benefits commonly associated with decorative and architectural concrete. When using Life-Cycle Assessments conforming to international standards, concrete outperforms other building products because it conserves resources by preventing premature replacement and excessive maintenance while delivering superior service life and smaller environmental impacts than other commonly used building products. Architectural concrete is sustainable because it combines form and function in a single material. Designers and industry professionals can improve the long-term viability of architectural finishes and decorative elements by anticipating maintenance needs and designing with the future in mind.