With climate change being at the forefront of peoples thoughts these days, it pays more than ever to look at how 'green' the construction materials you are using, and what impact they will have on the future.
We’re facing a time of great environmental change, and it will affect us all. But we at Mooreliving have been working out what to do, and how we can make keep our solutions Green.
Green Building is defined as:
the practice of creating structures and using processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building's life-cycle: from siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and deconstruction.
We are constantly working on new technologies to complement our current practices in creating greener structures, and to reduce the overall impact of our buildings on the environment.
Is precast concrete a green building material?Precast concrete contributes to green building practices in significant ways. The low water-cement ratios possible with precast concrete means it can be extremely durable. The thermal mass of concrete allows shifting of heating and cooling loads in a structure to help reduce mechanical-system requirements. Because precast concrete is factory-made, there is little waste created in the plant (most plants employ exact-batching technologies) and it reduces construction waste and debris on site, reducing construction IAQ concerns. The load-carrying capacities, optimized cross sections, and long spans possible with precast concrete members help eliminate redundant members, and concrete readily accommodates recycled content.
Is precast concrete energy-efficient?The thermal mass of precast concrete absorbs and releases heat slowly, shifting air conditioning and heating loads to allow smaller, more efficient heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. We can also us insulation in our panels to increase thermal efficiency, with continuous insulation (ci) in walls being possible. The resulting savings are significant, with up to 25% savings on heating and cooling costs.
Does precast concrete contain recycled materials?Precast concrete's fresh and in-place performance can improve when several common industrial by-products are added. Fly ash, slag, and silica fume, which would otherwise go to landfills, can be incorporated into concrete as supplementary materials. These by-products can also reduce the amount of cement that is used in concrete. Reinforcement is typically made from recycled steel. (Steel is one of the most recycled building materials, and can be reused again and again.) Insulation and connections within the precast concrete also contain recycled content.
Can precast concrete members be reused?Precast concrete members are unique in that they are individually engineered products that can be disassembled. Designers can easily plan future additions to buildings, because the precast concrete components can be rearranged. Once removed, precast concrete members may be reused in other applications.
Precast concrete is also friendly to down cycling, in which building materials are broken down, because it comes apart with a minimum amount of energy and retains its original qualities. An example of downcycling would be the use of crushed precast concrete as aggregate in new concrete or as base materials for roads, sidewalks, or concrete slabs.
What is being done about CO2 emissions during the cement-manufacturing process?Since 1975, the cement industry has reduced CO2 emissions by 33%. Today, cement production accounts for less than 1.5% of carbon dioxide emissions, well below other sources such as electric generation plants for heating and cooling the homes and buildings we live in (33%) and transportation (27%).
By the year 2020, plans call for further reduction of CO2 emissions to 10% below the 1990 baseline through investments in equipment, improvements in formulations, and development of new applications for cements and concretes that improve energy efficiency and durability.
What steps are precast operations taking toward sustainability?All Mooreliving facilities meet local and state ordinances and emissions requirements. Initiatives within the industry include:
- Use of local materials in all mixtures; local aggregate resources
- Water reclamation and recycling
- Reducing cement requirements by lowering water cement ratios
- Admixtures such as hardening accelerators to eliminate applied heat in curing
- Use of self-consolidating concrete (SCC) for quicker placement, no vibration, and reduced surface defects
- Carbon-fiber reinforcement that allows lighter and larger concrete sections with less embedded energy and no corrosion
- Use of supplemental cementitious materials (SCMs) to reduce cement consumption; participation in Cool Climate Concrete
- Utilising steel form parts for multiple reuses; remove the waste associated with wooden forms.
- Recycling all scrap steel and reinforcement
- Reducing and reusing product packaging