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How to Push Concrete to Green and Beyond

Vanessa Liwanag
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Concrete. For some, the sound of it conjures up words like “heavy, tough, gray.” For others, like the Brazilians, it has been a consistent go-to material for architecture projects.

While it’s widely used for foundation work, architects and designers have been putting the material to the test in furniture design and facade construction. As sustainability and ecology become more important, we zoom in on concrete as an ecological material and its use in various sustainable projects. How great is it and can we find new ways to make it even better?

It is one of the most efficient and cost-effective means of constructing energy-efficient structures, according to Concrete Sask, whose website states:

“While production of a cubic meter of conventional concrete generates 210 kilograms of CO2, this effect is mitigated by the inclusion of supplementary cementing materials and by the use of waste products to heat the cement kilns.”

So, what are architecture professionals doing today to take the material a step beyond green?

Exemplifying A Global Message

We’ve identified a few professionals who aim at reducing CO2 emission in precisely the way Concrete Sask mentions.

Architecture firm Eskew+Dumez+Ripple designed the New Orleans BioInnovation Center, a non-profit lab and office space. They had local concrete suppliers provide high-recycled-content mixes, and had local teams trained for the first installation of pervious concrete in the state.

Courtesy of IDMM Architects
Courtesy of IDMM Architects

Architecture firm Eskew+Dumez+Ripple

A housing project by David Baker Architects

EPO - Finalist 2015 Research - Self-healing cement containing bacteria, Hendrik Marius Jonkers

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