Concrete is Green:
- Concrete and masonry wall systems conserve energy through the use of thermal mass and reduced air infiltration. The continuous insulation barrier offered by most concrete wall systems reduces drafts and keeps a more even temperature throughout the house. The combination of these factors can often cut heating and cooling bills by more than 30%.
- Concrete is also lauded in green building circles for being made with a combination of recycled and natural products and for producing less waste.
Benefits for Home Buyers:
- Concrete homes have withstood fires, rains, floods, and hurricane-force winds with minimal or no structural damage.
- Homes built with insulated concrete walls effectively buffer the home’s interior from the outside. The weight and mass of the concrete can reduce the amount of external noise entering the house by as much as two-thirds.
- Concrete construction can provide a tight thermal building envelope, which can reduce a home owner’s heating and cooling bills.
- The concrete, insulation, and steel in a concrete wall system are much more mold- and insect-resistant than traditional wood studs, joists, and wall sheathing.
- The inert properties of concrete provide a good alternative for those concerned about unhealthy airborne solvents and product residues from other common building materials.
- Many insurance companies offer lower premiums for fire-resistant concrete constructed homes.
Benefits for Builders:
- The cost of the basic components of concrete — cement, water, sand, and aggregate — are more stable than the cost of framing lumber. While lumber prices can fluctuate wildly, concrete costs have remained steady in recent years, allowing for greater planning and financial forecasting.
- Concrete construction also boosts profits by increasing the speed of construction and completion times, reducing workplace theft, and virtually eliminating call-backs. Insurance costs for concrete builders may also be lower.
- With green building and durability issues hot on consumers’ minds, converting to concrete construction allows a business to further stand out from competitors.
Environmental Benefits during Construction:
- Locally Sourced Materials. The manufacturing process of portland cement, the binding element of concrete, is not tied to a certain region of the country and the materials involved in the process are readily available throughout North America.
- Use of Recycled Components. Concrete walls can incorporate recycled supplementary cementitious materials like fly ash and slag cement in two ways. First, portland cement is often produced by including recycled industrial byproducts such fly ash into the manufacturing process to minimize dependence on virgin raw materials. Additionally, fly ash, slag cement, silica fume, and recycled aggregates can be incorporated into concrete, thereby diverting materials from the landfill and reducing use of natural resources.
During the Life of the Structure:
- Cool. Light- or natural-colored concrete reduces heat islands, thereby lowering outdoor temperatures, saving energy, and reducing smog.
- Disaster Resistant. Concrete walls offer high durability and strength They are resistant to fires, wind, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, wind-driven rain, and moisture damage. The use of concrete can even reduce fire insurance rates.
- Energy Performance. Houses constructed with concrete achieve energy savings by combining the thermal mass of concrete with the optimal amount of insulation in precast concrete walls. Compared to wood and steel, concrete structures allow minimal temperature fluctuations. Consequently, heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning can be designed with smaller-capacity equipment, saving money and resources. Additionally the wall acts as an air barrier, reducing air infiltration and saving more energy.
- Indoor Air Quality. Concrete has low volatile organic compound (VOC) emittance and does not degrade indoor air quality.
- Recyclable. Concrete structures in urban areas can be recycled into fill and road base material at the end of their useful life (about 5% to 20% of aggregate in precast concrete can be recycled concrete).
Source(s) National Association of Home Builders and Portland Cement Association