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Use of Concrete to Fight the Effects of Global Warming

written by: Finn Orfano • edited by: Lamar Stonecypher • updated: 6/27/2011

Global warming is a reality. Despite the agreements made under the Kyoto Protocol, which are designed to mitigate the causes associated with climate change, experts predict that extreme weather events will continue to be a part of our future. Below, we will explore the use of concrete to help.

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    Concrete: A Sustainable Construction Material that can Help Fight Climate Change

    The consequences of climate change could mean that long periods of draught could be experienced. During these periods, there could be an increased risk of fire. Another consequence could be significant and frequent rainfall which can increase the risk of flooding. Some governments are therefore adopting new building regulations and standards to make sure buildings and structures are safe and sustainable and to fight the effects of global warming.

    Concrete can be used as a material in new construction projects to help meet the new building regulations and to help protect people and the environment from the consequences of climate change. Concrete is a material that is used in all types of construction. It is a robust and versatile material that can be used in the construction of housing, roads, schools, hospitals, dams, and ports.

    For example, concrete is a durable material that can be used in the construction of flood barriers or in drainage systems that are designed to manage flash flood waters that are a result of heavy rainfall. It can also be used to help protect coastlines from changes in sea level. Water conservation projects such as dams and reservoirs can use concrete as well.

    Concrete does not only help protect against flooding. If used in the construction of buildings, it can provide protection against flying debris during other extreme weather events, such as hurricanes and tornadoes.

    Protection against weather events is not the only reason to use concrete. There are other eco-friendly benefits with the material. For example, if concrete is used in the construction of buildings, it can reduce the need for air conditioning because concrete has a high thermal mass and minimizes overheating during heat waves. Less air conditioning means reduced energy consumption and, therefore, reduced CO2 emissions. In addition, antibacterial concrete can be used to control bacteria growth in hospitals and laboratories.

    An argument against using concrete to fight the effects of climate change in projects is that one of the main ingredients in concrete is cement. Cement actually occurs naturally; however, the quantities that are available in nature are not sufficient to meet demand. Cement is therefore manufactured. Unfortunately, the process used to manufacture cement is energy intensive and has a high initial carbon footprint.

    To reduce the CO2 emissions, the cement industry is taking steps to make the manufacturing process more efficient and eco-friendly. For example, waste is used as an alternative fuel and a raw material in the production of cement. If energy is recovered from waste material, fewer natural resources are required in cement production which will help in conservation efforts.

    In summary, experts predict that extreme weather events will continue to be a part of our future. Despite the high initial carbon footprint associated with cement production, concrete is a good material to be used in construction projects to help with sustainability initiatives to fight the effects of global warming. It can be used to help protect people and the environment from the consequences of climate change, can last and work for decades, and can enable more efficient uses of natural resources.

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