Published on 5/9/2017
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So tell me, is concrete environmentally sustainable?
Now running the Association’s National Precast Concrete Association office from Adelaide, Sarah Bachman gives us some insight
Many industry experts believe precast concrete is a superior method of construction when it comes to sustainability, but it’s useful to look at examples, such as why precast was the material of choice by one developer for a luxury condominium.
This particular developer evaluated a range of materials options and wanted to deliver a structure that would require minimal maintenance over its life, be fire resistant, require minimal heating and cooling, and would not emit harmful chemical emissions or VOCs over its life. Durability was high on the agenda as well. He chose precast concrete.
This example isn’t foreign. A myriad of structures have been built in Australia using precast concrete for similar reasons. Additionally, many have contributed to achieving five or six Green Star ratings.
A material’s embodied energy is a measure of the amount of carbon (or carbon dioxide) which is embodied in that material. While there’s only a small amount of carbon in a tonne of concrete, the fact that concrete is the most widely used construction material in the world means that it is the material that holds the greatest amount of carbon in the world. That’s where concrete sometimes gets crucified, but there’s more to it than that.
Too often, we get caught up in a debate which focuses solely on embodied energy. We fail to see the whole picture.
What’s important – and it probably explains why concrete is in fact the most widely used construction material in the world – is that there is good reason for justifying the use of a material which, when compared with the total volume of other materials used, contains more aggregated total carbon.
This is where the whole of life approach becomes extremely relevant. What is often not considered (although it has been well documented) is that most of a structure’s carbon emissions are actually emitted over its life, as opposed to the embodied energy that is in the structure at the time of construction.
To Read the Full Article Visit https://sourceable.net/embodied-energy-we-need-the-whole-story/
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Sarah Bachman has spent 16 years in state and national association management roles and 10 in senior marketing/public affairs positions, based both in Adelaide and Sydney. She holds a Bachelor of Economics from the University of Adelaide. She is a previous Director of Statewide Superannuation Trust, the Australasian Society of Association Executives and the Australian Construction Industry Forum.
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