Is Concrete Sustainable as a Construction Material?

sustainable concrete, is concrete sustainable

Sustainable concrete can be used in residential and commercial building projects to lower costs and maintenance while increasing energy efficiency.

There are many reasons to use concrete instead of other building materials like wood or metal including durability, ease of maintenance, and cost-effectiveness. Another reason to use concrete for your next construction project is that concrete is also more eco-friendly than most other types of building materials.


There’s a reason that concrete has been such a popular building material for the past millenia—durability. The Romans used concrete in most of their construction, much of which is still standing today. Concrete is strong enough to withstand natural disasters, extreme environments, and the erosion of use and time. Freeze and thaw cycles have little effect on concrete, and it does not burn, rot, or rust like other building materials.

The longer a structure lasts, the fewer resources have to be wasted to repair or rebuild it. Long-lasting buildings and pavements also translate into fewer construction sites and transportation of workers and goods, and, therefore, a lower carbon footprint. Concrete’s durability puts it in a class of its own among sustainable building materials.

Reduces Heat Island Effects

If you’ve ever driven into a city and been amazed at the rise in temperature, you were experiencing the urban heat island effect. Asphalt and metal absorb and retain heat, and glass reflects sunlight and intensifies it.

Concrete deflects heat and helps insulate and keep the areas around it cooler during the summer than asphalt and other building materials. Combine concrete buildings with trees and you’ll find lower ozone counts, better air quality, and lower temperatures than in areas without concrete infrastructure.

Locally Sourced

Concrete is often a locally sourced material, which means it is supporting local jobs. Limestone, the main component in sustainable concrete, is the earth’s most abundant mineral and can be found in almost any area of the United States.

While transportation costs and resources can make building materials less sustainable, when you buy your concrete from locally sourced vendors, you’re cutting costs and supporting local workers. Concrete can also be made from waste materials such as slag cement, fly ash, and silica fume from different manufacturing plants. Because it is a composite of previously destroyed concrete and gravel, concrete is able to recycle itself, making it a cheaper choice for construction.

Energy Efficient

When you use concrete, you use less energy to heat and cool your home or office. Concrete can act as a thermal sink – meaning it absorbs and retains the temperature around it longer than other materials. Because of its density, concrete also controls air leakage which makes your building easier to warm or cool, which reflects in your energy bills. Higher energy efficiency means that you can reduce the size of your HVAC system and, therefore, your carbon footprint as well.

Return Water Back to the Aquifers

One of the problems with today’s building materials is that they are often impervious to water. Roads and sidewalks allow water to pool, making it slick for cars and people as well as causing flooding, erosion, and pollution. The collected water needs to return to the soil where it can become the groundwater that supports our cities.

Instead of trapping the water above, pervious concrete allows water to flow through it, thus making rainwater into useful groundwater. Pervious concrete cuts back on the erosion and damage that can be done by standing water which in turn means that it requires fewer repairs.

Recyclable Concrete

Concrete is inherently recyclable because it can be made from crushed particles of previously constructed concrete. Whether reused in building projects, as road base or to protect shorelines, concrete keeps itself out of landfills. When it is ground up, concrete can serve as a road base. Larger pieces of sustainable concrete can be can be used strategically on the coasts to protect shorelines from the erosion caused by storms and other extreme weather.

For more information about sustainable concrete in Arkansas, contact Razorback Concrete at 870-455-0700 for a free consultation.

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