Often, we look at the benefits of the construction sector from the viewpoint of the beautiful edifices and structures we enjoy living and working in. But that’s not all there is. The construction industry considerably enhances the health of our planet and creates durable products that work in harmony with the ecosystem by encouraging sustainable practices, green technology, and energy conservation.
What is Sustainability?
Sustainability aims to ensure that current innovations achieve current objectives while being mindful of future generations. Sustainable architectural techniques apply a holistic or all-encompassing approach to ensure the best use of durable building materials. These consist of assembly procedures that ensure sustainable performance throughout a building’s lifecycle.
Sustainable architecture begins with a mindset that projects into the future while using the best construction materials and methods currently on the market. The sustainability philosophy looks at the big picture, that is, what is good for the building, its tenants, and the community.
Sustainability in building construction makes a lot of business sense as well. It’s the right thing to do. Its objectives were explained in great detail during the 2005 World Summit on Social Development. The summit established three main sustainability pillars: economic, environmental, and social sustainability.
Weakness in any of these pillars renders the whole structure unsustainable, and precast concrete checks all three sustainability pillars. It is economical, environmentally friendly, and promotes socially responsible use. Let’s explore these pillars in more detail.
1. Economic Sustainability
Precast concrete structures are easy to disassemble and reuse. Due to its exceptional strength and durability, disassembled precast concrete components experience minimal or no damage. Products made of precast concrete can also be downcycled, meaning they can be crushed or broken for use in new structures such as concrete slabs, roadways, or sidewalks. The durability of the new structures isn’t impacted by downcycling, which also requires less energy.
Precast drainage systems can be completed faster than those made using other methods. They are also less likely to suffer installation mistakes as they are engineered products, not engineered installations. The result is reduced on-site labour needs and less waste from field modifications or manufacturing defects. Besides, suppliers frequently avail discounts for bulk precast concrete purchases, saving businesses much-needed cash.
2. Environmental Sustainability
Precast concrete uses a low water-to-cement ratio, which makes it durable. The three main concrete ingredients are cement, gravel, and sand. When mixed, cement and water combine to create a strong crystalline matrix that bonds with gravel and sand to form concrete. Unlike other frequently used construction materials, which are vulnerable to rot, rust, and deterioration, concrete maintains its strength even when exposed to elements such as moisture, sunlight, or extreme weather conditions. Unhydrated cement particles continue to bond with moisture, making them stronger.
Precast concrete’s thermal mass enables it to adapt to most climates, which prevents cracking and other forms of damage. It also reduces the overall energy use throughout a building by prolonging the time it takes to heat or cool its surface.
One can make precast concrete in a local facility using locally sourced materials, reducing the carbon footprint resulting from transportation. Since precast is often produced in factories employing exact-batch technology, it results in minimal waste at the plant or job site. Additionally, when you use precast concrete products, there is no risk of harmful residues leaking into the earth or the water supply.
3. Social Sustainability
Recycled materials are usually byproducts of other industries and are often used in precast concrete. Materials such as silica fume, slag, and fly ash, which is typically disposed of in landfills, can be used in precast concrete production. This minimizes the amount of waste going to landfills and oceans. It also means less cement is required to produce precast concrete.
Products made of concrete are safe. They don’t release gases, poisonous substances, or volatile organic compounds that may seep into drinking water. People with allergies can live in precast concrete buildings without the risk of developing the “sick building syndrome.” Since precast concrete is produced in a plant, where amounts of dust are kept at a minimum, it promotes a healthy work environment and shields on-site personnel from bad air quality.
With natural disasters such as flooding and wildfires on the rise, there is a need for resilient and damage-resistant structures. Since precast concrete is fire-resistant, it is great at containing fires and preventing them from spreading between structures. During wildfires, precast concrete walls protect people and their valuables, and even after a fire, the concrete may still be restored.
Because concrete is water resistant and ideal for flood barrier designs, its durability means that precast concrete structures do not sustain significant structural damage during floods and, hence, are not washed away.
The future of green construction is sustainable concrete. Precast concrete encourages environmental sustainability by creating durable and energy-efficient structures. It promotes downcycling and product reuse, which contribute to economic sustainability. It also promotes social sustainability by promoting safer working conditions. Join the sustainable construction revolution by adopting the increasingly popular and sustainable precast concrete.