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 alternatives.
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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.
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.
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).
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.
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%.
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.