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  • 10 Concrete Alternatives For An Eco-Friendly Environment

    Looking at the current scenario of global warming and climate conditions, there is an urgent need for eco-friendly concrete alternatives. Almost 70% of the world’s population lives on concrete infrastructure. As concrete is the world’s most widely used material for construction, it affects the environment widely. With this need for a green revolution, industries are adopting some eco-friendly alternatives to concrete that support the environment. Knowing these eco-friendly alternatives to concrete can help today’s designers construct a better atmosphere for living.

    Concrete is formed by controlled chemical combinations of calcium, silicon, aluminum, iron, and other ingredients. These ingredients, when heated at high temperatures, form a rock-like substance that is ground into a fine powder that we think of as cement. As a result, these ingredients are harmful to the environment and can be addressed by the following eco-friendly concrete alternatives:.

    Concrete Alternatives
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    1. Green Concrete

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    Green Concrete is a form of eco-friendly concrete that is manufactured using water and residual materials from industries, which reduces energy consumption. As a result, this type of concrete emits less carbon dioxide and is more cheap and durable. By using this type of concrete, the dependency on recyclable materials is increased, thereby saving natural resources. In the manufacturing of green concrete, recycled water is used more, saving additional water, which makes it eco-friendly.

    2. Ash Crete

    Concrete Alternatives
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    Ash Crete is made up of recycled fly ash, utilising it in heavy amounts, which becomes an alternative to traditional concrete. Fly ash is the by-product of the combustion of coal, which was previously discarded in landfills and hence used to make green concrete. Due to the use of fly ash, ashcrete becomes the concrete alternative that emits a reduced amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. As a result, 25% of cement can be reduced using fly ash. This concrete alternative also has other benefits, such as reduced bleeding, increased strength of the concrete, and reduced shrinkage compared to traditional concrete. In addition, fly ash also makes concrete resistant to alkali-silica reactivity.

    3. Blast Furnace Slag Concrete

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    Blast furnace slag concrete is made by using blast furnace slag in place of cement, which makes a strong concrete alternative. Blast furnace slag is a byproduct that is used to make an eco-friendly concrete alternative. This slag is a glassy granular byproduct that is obtained by quenching molten iron slag from the furnace into water or streams. By reducing the proportion of cement to 70%–80%, it makes a durable concrete alternative. Also, by using blast furnace slag, it causes less heat hydration in the formation of concrete.

    4. Micro Silica Fumes Concrete

    Concrete Alternatives
    Image Credits: freepik.com

    Microsilica fumes, or silica fumes, are an ultra-fine powder that is a byproduct of ferrosilicon alloy and silicon production from the condensation of silicon dioxide. Silica fumes, when replaced with cement, can reduce the amount to 7%–12%, which makes it an eco-friendly concrete alternative. Microsilica makes the concrete more durable by making it less permeable and increasing its compressive strength. Thus, microsilica concrete becomes a better concrete alternative for the environment. Concrete made with silica fumes is often used in structures that are exposed to harsh chemicals. In comparison to traditional concrete, microsilica fume concrete is a better concrete alternative to be used for construction.

    5. Recycled Plastic Concrete  

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    As we know, plastic is an indispensable product for our day-to-day lives. Hence, the havoc caused by its non-biodegradable quality can be addressed strategically. The use of recycled plastic can reduce the emission of greenhouse gases while unclogging plastic-filled landfills. Plastic waste can reduce 20% of the aggregates present in concrete, which makes it an eco-friendly concrete alternative. Thus, the concrete block formed will be lighter compared to traditional concrete. Only 9% of the plastic produced can be recycled, so using recycled plastic and making an eco-friendly concrete alternative is the best option. This concrete alternative is mostly used in road construction processes.

    6. Hempcrete

    Concrete Alternatives
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    Hempcrete is a new and biodegradable concrete alternative. The hemp plant is a fast-growing renewable resource. The production of this plant requires little or no water, chemicals, or fuels. Hemp fibres, when mixed with lime and water, create a concrete-like material that is lighter and stronger, making an efficient concrete alternative. The presence of lime reduces the emission of carbon to 80% more than traditional concrete; hence, hempcrete becomes a more eco-friendly concrete alternative. Hempcrete blocks have been innovated to be used as an alternative to concrete blocks for construction.

    7. Ferrock Steel Dust Concrete

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    Ferrock steel dust concrete uses recycled waste from steel and glass manufacturing industries to make eco-friendly concrete blocks that are used as concrete alternatives. As it is five times stronger than traditional concrete, it proves to be more durable in earthquake-prone construction, making it a more efficient concrete alternative. Compared to cement, ferrock has greener and more eco-friendly benefits as it turns tonnes of steel waste into use. Ferrock steel requires more carbon dioxide while hardening and absorbs the greenhouse gas, hence making it a carbon-negative concrete alternative.

    8. Papercrete or Fibrous Concrete

    Concrete Alternatives
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    By using recycled paper in the form of aggregates, one can produce a better concrete alternative by reducing the amount of cement to be used. While recycled paper cannot reduce the entire amount of cement, it can help reduce the amount by reducing the emission of greenhouse gases in comparison and making a better concrete alternative.

    9. Rammed Earth

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    Rammed earth is made by compacting dampened subsoil between temporary formwork. It can be further strengthened with construction techniques such as rebar and steel frames, hence making it a better concrete alternative. As the mixture of subsoil required to form rammed earth is easily available on site, it becomes a good concrete alternative that is easily manageable.

    10. Timbercrete

    Concrete Alternatives
    Image Credits: freepik.com

    Timbercrete is made from waste sawdust and cement, which makes it a lighter concrete alternative than traditional concrete. As using the sawdust reduces the amount of cement to be used, it also reduces the emission of carbon, hence making it an eco-friendly concrete alternative. It also becomes a weather-resistant and comparably strong concrete alternative, depending on the sawdust-to-cement ratio. As this concrete alternative requires cement, it becomes a partially eco-friendly material to be used.

    Building is inevitable for us humans; we survive due to nature, and hence it’s our moral duty to protect it. Thus, when we live within nature, as it allows us to build, we must take good care that we do not excessively harm the environment. Taking care of our climatic conditions and present environment and finding eco-friendly concrete alternatives for the use of construction is a moral call that every designer takes. Nowadays, various options are formed by the production of materials like steel, glass, and wood that can be used in the formation of concrete, giving us opportunities to make concrete alternatives.

    Due to the use of various materials instead of cement, the concrete alternatives that are innovated give rise to different properties of the material that are further developed in construction. Using rammed earth and timbercrete as concrete alternatives gives rise to new strengths and looks for structures. Hence, by looking at the 10 eco-friendly concrete alternatives above, a designer can fulfil their moral responsibility towards the environment.

    Content Writing And Research By: Ar. Rajeshwari Pandya Modi

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