Concrete offers significant sustainability benefits over other building materials thanks to its innate properties, strength, durability and resilience, its minimal land use responsible stewardship of land, its local availability, its versatility that requires no additional finishes and in terms of minimising CO2 its recyclability, reusability, ability to recarbonate lower the energy needs of buildings.
Whilst timber has a role as a building material a number of misconceptions have arisen as to its sustainability values.
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resilience & safety
Society expects the built environment – buildings, bridges and other infrastructure – to be enduring and safe – safety is the first priority.
Carbon emissions & circularity
To know if a material is really ecological, it is important to look at the whole life of the product from sourcing/extraction of raw materials, including the different processes and treatments transportation, in use maintenance and end of life.
& Land use
Trees are the ‘lungs of the planet’. They absorb atmospheric CO2 and play a critical role in the fight against climate change. Trees, and the biodiversity that they support, are under threat from deforestation.
& environmental factors
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are chemicals found in many common building materials that can escape into the air and cause illness and allergic reactions.
Long supply chains inevitably bring emissions and energy use that are often not accounted for in assessing the credentials of a material.
Structural versatility provides the engineer, often working with the architect, enormous scope to meet the application requirements in an optimal way.