Why Concrete is Green

Concrete had been used in various forms for thousands of years, but it is only recently that we are discovering how beneficial using concrete can be over other alternativesLEED concrete construction.

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Local Materials
Concrete is made from raw materials that often times are mined right here in Maryland, decreasing fuel and energy needed to transport these materials and provide for the local economy. Because wet concrete can only travel short distances, plants are local and also support their local communities and economies. 

Strength and Durability
Often, other materials need frequent replacement; however, concrete can last decades and even centuries in some applications. Infrequent replacement means less use of both raw materials and the energy associated with a construction project. Plus, when concrete is used as a road it increases fuel efficiency by about 4% for cars and 7% for large trucks. 

recycled concrete earns LEED creditsRecyclable
Concrete can be recycled when it is finished with its long service life. Chaney Enterprises alone processes more than 100 million pounds of recycled concrete a year. 

Recycled Content
Concrete can contain recycled content, most commonly as a replacement for cement in the form of fly ash (a byproduct of coal burning) and slag (a byproduct of metal refining).

  •  Benefits of Using Slag - The rule of thumb is that one tone of CO2 is released for every ton of Portland cement used in a concrete mixture. Substituting 50 percent slag can save between 165 and 374 pounds of CO2 per cubic yard of concrete.  Slag cement requires almost 90 percent less energy to produce than Portland cement so by using slag as a replacement in a mix design, the amount of embodied energy in a cubic yard of concrete is reduced by 30 to 48 percent. A ton of Portland cement requires about 1.6 tons of raw materials during mining operations. If 50 percent of slag cement is used instead of Portland cement, between 281 and 640 pounds of virgin material can be saved per cubic yard of concrete.
  • Benefits of Using Fly Ash - Initially, fly ash was disposed of in landfills until it was discovered that is can replace up to 50% of Portland cement in a concrete mix. Concrete with a high percentage of fly ash exhibits less bleeding and shrinkage than straight cement mix designs.  

Concrete’s bright color cuts down on the heat island effect and decreases ambient temperatures around a building by 7 to 10 degrees. The bright surface also decreases lighting usage by 30%--energy and cost savings that repeat year after year. 

Thermal Mass
Buildings constructed of concrete have thermal mass, a property that enables the building to absorb, store, and later release significant amounts of heat. This delay and reduction of heat transfer means insulated concrete walls can reduce heating energy use by up to 44% and cooling energy use by up to 32%. 

Less CO2
When added up over the long life cycle, concrete’s many benefits result in carbon savings that dwarf the initial carbon output of the project.

CarbonCure Technology
The CarbonCure Technology injects recycled carbon dioxide (CO2) into ready mix concrete during mixing. Once introduced to the mix, the CO2 becomes chemically transformed into a mineral and permanently embedded within the concrete. The process was shown to improve the concrete’s compressive strength, which enabled Chaney to reduce its cement content while maintaining compressive strength requirements. Chaney installed the CarbonCure Technology at its Green-Star Certified Waldorf concrete plant in December 2017.