Questions to ask about sustainability of concrete

Author: GMI Engineered Products January 4, 2014

When it comes to installing new concrete at a place of business, it is very important to ask specific questions. The more knowledge the company has about the process, the better off it is going to be at preparing itself, both physically and financially for the concrete. Sustainability often comes at the top of the line of questions, as after all, nobody wants to continually install new concrete due to a lack of sustainability. That is exactly where there are specific questions to ask about sustainable concrete.

Do We Need it?

This popular question serves as the starting point for any dialog regarding concrete, its use and how helpful it is. There are many reasons as to why a company should opt into concrete. For starters, presentation is everything, and should a potential customer drive up on a dirt parking lot, have to walk across gravel or look over a terribly cracked and damaged lot, it reflects poorly on the company. A pristine, quality concrete lot, floor or other construction material showcases the company cares about its appearance. Additionally, inferior driveways, sidewalks and other walkways can lead to potential liability suits, as individuals might trip, fall and injure themselves on their way into the company’s building.

How Finite Are the Source Materials? Do They Regenerate and How Quickly?

Concrete is made up of several different byproducts, depending on the specific form of concrete desired. It is a composite of cement, fly ash, limestone and water. Limestone, concrete and other natural materials are mined from the earth, and while it does not regenerate itself quickly or easily, concrete is often simply broken down and reused.

What Did We Need to Do to Get it to its Usable Form? Did This Process Produce/Release Toxins or Destroy Habitats?

It is rather simple to obtain and produce concrete in its usable form. For starters, most of the material used is directly mined from the earth. Whether it is sand, limestone or even oyster shells, the items are obtained from mining facilities. When combined and mixed with water, which works as a hydrating agent, the concrete is produced.

How Much Energy and Water Did it Take to Make it?

Concrete is rather easily made and it can actually be made by hand, without the utilization of any energy at all. The cement must remain in motion in order to prevent it from drying, which is why concrete mixers are used. The amount of water required varies slightly, depending on the specific compound and materials inside of the concrete, but typically 16 percent of the compound is from air.

How Much Waste Material Did it Generate?

There is no waste material as everything is used during the concrete production process.

What Does it Need to Operate?

Concrete does not need any special for operation. Producing concrete might require a cement mixer, but there is little to no maintenance required, so there isn’t any additional items required to operate.

Were the People Involved in Producing, Delivering and Installing it Fairly Compensated? Were They Provided with Safe and healthy Working Conditions?

How Long Will it Last?

Concrete, when properly maintained, can last more than the intended use. However, this does depend on some varying factors (including location, exposure to elements and amount of traffic), but with proper maintenance, concrete will last as long as desired.